Pirates pitchers George Chapman (left to right), Matai Bala, Patrick Doherty and Russell Grant have combined for a 1.56 ERA.
OCEANSIDE A year ago, one of them was a reliever, one was pitching on the junior varsity and another was pitching for the team’s crosstown rival.
Only Russell Grant pitched significant innings for Oceanside High’s varsity.
This baseball season, Grant has joined forces with George Chapman and Matai Bala to form one of the best starting rotations in school history.
Throw in Patrick Doherty, a transfer from El Camino, and you have a foursome whose combined ERA is an extraordinary 1.56 as the Pirates battle for the Valley League championship.
“My intelligence has gone through the roof by putting those four guys together,” said longtime Oceanside coach Dave Barrett. “We know that every day they will pitch well for us, and pitching and defense wins you a lot of games.
“We have exceeded expectations.”
The potent foursome has recorded every win for the 17-6-1 Pirates.
Only seven times have the Pirates allowed more than three runs in a game.
“Being able to compete against very good teams is a great big surprise,” said Chapman, a reliever turned starter with a 5-2 record and a 0.88 ERA this season after throwing just 14 innings as a junior. “Our staff has been consistent and now we feel like we can go up against anyone and compete.”
Chapman, who is senior class president and a three-time captain of the Pirates water polo squad, had a 4.50 ERA in 2015.
“At 6-foot-6, 210, he’s just scratching the surface,” Barrett said. “He hasn’t learned how good he can be.”
Bala is 5-1 with a 1.83 ERA. He averages nearly a strikeout per inning.
“A great competitor,” added Barrett. “He takes it personally if a batter gets on base.”
Grant had a 2.09 ERA in 47 innings last season. He’s 4-3 with a 1.63 ERA as a senior.
“He has electric stuff,” Barrett said. “He went from a good arm last year to a great arm this year.”
Each starter has a shutout.
Doherty is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA.
“He’s not afraid of the moment,” said Barrett. “I love giving him the ball late in games.”
Opponents have a .173 batting average against the foursome.
“This season is huge to me because we haven’t won a league title since 2008,” Chapman said. “Being able to win another league title that isn’t football and to do that as a senior would be great.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to go out at least as a league champion.”
Chapman and his friends are making a strong pitch for that goal.