Head coach Woody Hunt concludes the preview of the 2018 Cumberland baseball team with a breakdown of the pitching staff, which returns only three hurlers who compiled 30 or more innings last season – seniors Travis Dohr and Curtis Hoppe and redshirt sophomore Brad Smith.
“That’s the area we keyed on in recruiting after last season. It’s an area where you almost have to over-recruit, which we did,” Hunt said. “We lost two of our top guys to professional baseball at the end of last summer, but I think we still have the depth to be much better than we have been.”
Dohr served as the team’s No. 1 starter most of 2017, registering a 7-6 mark with a 4.41 ERA in 81.2 innings over 15 appearances. The righthander struck out 57 and walked 33 and pitched much better than his record would indicate for most of the season.
“I think [Travis is] going to give us a really good year. He was kind of up-and-down a little bit [last year]. The good thing is that [Travis] was not satisfied with last year. He was very disappointed, but he’s going to have better guys around him and I think he won’t have to carry the load as much.
“If his breaking ball is on, he’ll be a tough guy to beat and he proved that some last year. He’s got good command of his breaking ball and he can get ahead in the count and strike you out with that pitch.”
Hoppe was the tough-luck guy on the staff in 2017, compiling a 2-7 record in 14 appearances, striking out 86 in 66.1 innings. He also walked 35 but posted the best opponent batting average for any pitcher from last year’s club at just .254.
“I think [Curtis is] going to bounce back and give us some really good innings. We relied on him heavy last year. He lost a lot of tough games. If he can turn that around he’ll have a good year.”
Cumberland has added several transfers on the pitching staff, including Sacramento, Calif., native Polo Portela, Woodland, Calif., native Thomas Galart and Green Valley, Nev., native Christian Straub.
Portela posted a 14-3 mark with 141 strikeouts and an ERA under 2.70 in two combined seasons at Sacramento City College. Galart registered a 5-2 mark with five saves in 60.1 innings last season at Cosumnes River College and Straub also pitched last season at Sacramento City College with Portela, albeit in limited innings.
“We’re very excited about Polo. He was one of the top [junior college] arms in California and did very well for his league. I think he’s going to win some ball games for us,” Hunt said.
“Thomas can relieve or start. We’re going to make him a starter. He’s got good stuff, he’s big and he gives you a physical presence out there. [Christian] is a big, strong physical kid with a good arm. If he finds the strike zone, he’ll be a tough guy to beat.”