SJ-O has a mound of confidence
ST. JOSEPH — Words are often used flippantly. Fantastic. Terrific. Outstanding.
Hearing them for achievements that are less than sensational diminishes the feats that truly deserve the superlatives.
St. Joseph-Ogden’s unbeaten baseball team is a prime example.
Through 13 games, the Spartans have allowed eight runs. That’s total runs. Only three were earned.
The staff — which includes nine players with at least one inning pitched —
has yielded 34 hits in 89 innings while combining for 139 strikeouts and 28 walks.
Indiana University recruit Hunter Hart is the leader and the reason nearly two dozen major league scouts have seen SJ-O play thus far. The team’s success, however, isn’t based on one talented individual.
“Whoever is on the mound is being developed and expected to compete, throw strikes and get the job done,” coach Josh Haley said. “Our staff does a tremendous job of throwing strikes.”
The Spartans’ pitching coach is a former pitcher, Mitch Pruemer. Haley, a former catcher, tutors the signal-callers.
“We have that added mental side that we both experienced as players, and we are able to teach to our staff,” Haley said.
Pitching was an expected strength in the preseason. Besides Hart, two teammates — Brock Immke and Tyler McCormick — have committed to play in college, and current junior Cole Berry has the attention of college coaches, including Purdue.
Catching was an uncertain position entering the year. Bryce Stewart (2013 graduate) caught all but five innings the past two springs.
An area that was a question mark has turned into an exclamation point thanks to underclassmen Chase Gadau and Eli Oltean.
“They have done a tremendous job behind the plate to maintain our success,” Haley said, “and we haven’t missed a beat with two new catchers behind the plate.”
Eight of the nine hurlers who have taken the mound are averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Hart is at 1.96, Dalton Parker is at 1.80, Berry is at 1.64. That group has 12 of the team’s 13 wins. The other win belongs to Dylan Koss, who is averaging 1.33 strikeouts per inning. The team average is 1.56.
“Hunter gets a lot of pub, and it’s well-deserved,” Haley said, “but Immke, McCormick and Berry would be No. 1 for a lot of teams.”
With SJ-O’s ERA at 0.24, terms like fantastic, terrific and outstanding might even be an understatement.