At the Quarter-Pole: Hoots Own Tiebreak For Division Lead, Pitching Leading The Way
Columbus, GA - It seems like just yesterday the Sunbelt Baseball League's 2022 season started but the season is already 25% over. The Chatt-a-Hoots played in their 7th of 28 regular season games on Monday and while they are not the last team to hit the quarter-pole mark, the majority of the league is past it, so it's a good time to look at the season so far at Golden Park for the Hoots.
With a 3-4 record the Hoots might sit one game under .500 but are in a 3-way tie for the division lead with both the Choccolocco Monsters and Gwinnett Astros, who also each sit at 3-4. With the team's combined head to head records it is the Hoots who sit in first place.
Columbus 3-2 vs GWI and CHO
Choccolocco 2-2 vs CCH and GWI
Gwinnett 2-3 vs CCH and CHO
The Hoots have split weekend series with Gwinnett and Choccolocco this season and thanks to Monday's 5-4 win now have the lead in the SBL Western Division.
Despite the under .500 record the Hoots have a +13 run differential good for 3rd best in the league. All four losses this season have been by two runs or less, symbolizing the Hoots' compete level in every game this year.
The team defense and pitching have been instrumental to the Chatt-a-Hoots success early on. Columbus leads the league in runs against (22), runs allowed per game (3.14), walks issued (29), and lead in opponent batting average (.180) and walk + hits per inning pitched, or WHIP, at 1.13.
The pitching staff's team numbers speak for themselves, but those leading the way on the mound are Gavin McBride, Javi Marrero and Brian Trepanier who all have yet to give up an earned run and have accounted for 11.1 innings of work. Bryce Valero (17) and Clay Weatherly (16) are among the top-5 in the league in strikeouts and both have ERAs under 1.30. 10 pitchers in all have ERAs under 4.00 in the early part of the 2022 season.
Valero specifically had a historic outing back on June 8th against the Gainesville GolDiggers, striking out 15 batters in 5.2 innings of work. Unfortunately the Hoots suffered a walkoff loss in the game 3-2, but the pitchers after Valero exited came in and continued the domination on the mound. The Hoots recorded 21 of 25 outs in that game via the strikeout, an 84% rate.
At the plate, Columbus has had no shortage of baserunners drawing over 50 walks already this season but have often left multiple men on base to spoil RBI chances. Their team batting average of .222 ranks T-6 in the SBL but their On-Base percentage is good for 2nd at .382 behind only the 6-1 Waleska Wild Things (.429).
From an individual perspective the Hoots got a big shot in the arm when Edwin "Win" Johns reported to the team and homered in his debut, a 9-2 win over Gwinnett on June 10th. Since then Johns has added a 2nd home run in just three games which has him tied with Colton Lawrence (Atlanta Crackers) for the league lead.
Johns and Britt Netterville made Chatt-a-Hoots history on Monday night with back-to-back home runs inthe 2nd inning of Columbus' 5-4 win over Gwinnett. It marks the first time in organization history that the team had back-to-back home runs. Netterville's long ball also served as his first it of the year, getting some relief out of his hitless slump to begin the season.
In terms of hitting for average, Ellis Yohn leads the way with a spectacular .435 average going 10/23 with a pair of RBIs with appearances in all seven games thus far.. Bradley Smith's hot start to the season (3/3 with a run scored in the opener at Choccolocco) has cooled a bit but still sees him hitting .350 this year.
In terms of getting on base, Zane Ross, Conner O'Neal and Jonathan Manibusan combine for 20 of the team's 51 walks, a mark they lead in per game this season as a team. Yohn leads the way in OBP with .519 with Simms Owens right behind him at .500.
With a quarter of the season gone, the Hoots are in a wildly competitive division and have some of, if not the best pitching in the SBL this season. It's sure to be a fun summer at Golden Park so be sure to get your tickets at GoHoots.com/tickets and come out and see the Hoots in action this weekend taking on the SBL Eastern Division leading Waleska Wild Things! Games are Friday and Saturday night with first pitch each night at 7:05.