With efforts like Hazen’s Nathan Bunch’s March 24 start against Lindbergh, the Highlanders will a be a tough match for any team in 2008.
Bunch finished with 16 strikeouts, while giving up just one hit and one walk in seven innings in a dominant start that led to a 3-0 win for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders have started the season 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the Seamount League. After losing 7-0 to Liberty in a non-league game to open the season, they’ve won four straight games and outscored opponents 42-13.
Bunch will be a key for the Highlanders this season. In three appearances totaling 15 innings, Bunch has 29 strikeouts and four walks. He’s allowed six hits and no earned runs on the way to a 2-0 record and a save.
“Nathan’s been lights out,” said Hazen coach Chris Chiechi. “He’s pretty intelligent on the mound. He knows what he needs to do to get guys out.”
Bunch does his damage with a fastball that hits mid-to-high eighties (miles per hour) and a slider that Chiechi called “real nasty.”
The senior took a big step forward this season because of his ability to maintain his composure on the mound, something that is still a work in progress.
“One thing that we need to work on a little bit is when he gets in trouble he needs to take a step off and get refocused,” Chiechi said. “He needs to stay focused when he gets some adversity thrown at him. He’s done better with that this season.”
On the offensive end, Bunch has five runs batted in (RBIs) and has scored three runs.
Justin Jacobs will be the No. 2 pitcher for Hazen. The junior has struggled at times this season, but Chiechi and the Highlanders are looking forward to his turnaround.
“If he gets to where we think he can, him and Nathan are going to be tough,” said Chiechi.
Though Jacobs throws harder than Bunch in the bullpen, he doesn’t consistently carry that velocity to the pitching mound. “You just got to get out there and trust your stuff,” Chiechi said. “He kind of backs off a bit and doesn’t throw as hard in games. But once he gets a little bit of confidence, he gets tough.”
Jacobs has a 4.667 earned-run average, four strikeouts
and five walks through nine innings this season.
Kyle Nation will play catcher for Hazen. The junior is batting .333 with five runs and a team-leading six rbi’s.
Ryan Anderson will play all over the field for the Highlanders. Chiechi said Anderson is a great athlete and that makes up for the fact that he doesn’t play baseball year-round. Anderson has two doubles and five runs this season.
Anderson is one of just two seniors on the team (along with Bunch) but Chiechi isn’t worried about the five sophomores that will play key roles for the team.
“They’re all kids that play the game pretty much all year and that’s been a real advantage for us,” Chiechi said. “Their confidence level is high and they know how to play the game.”
Other offensive highlights of the 2008 season include: Junior Derek Cline has five rbi’s and is batting .500, sophomore Brendan Campbell is batting .467 with two steals and six runs and sophomore John Wall has seven runs, two steals and two doubles.
Hazen plays Wednesday when the team hosts Mount Rainier at 3:30 p.m.
Adam McFadden can be reached at email@example.com