Sycamore baseball coach Jason Cavanaugh probably could have let pitcher Cole Nelson finish his start Tuesday against DeKalb. After all, the junior allowed only six hits through the first six innings of Monday’s 4-2 win.
But when you’ve got a pitcher as good as Scott Nelson warming up, Cavanaugh thought, he might as well bring in the sure thing.
“When you’ve got the big unit ready to go, I think you’ve got to use [Scott Nelson],” Cavanaugh said. “He’s kind of the nice secret weapon off the bench that’s not really a secret anymore.”
Entering the season, Cavanaugh wasn’t sure where the Spartans’ shut-down pitching would come from.
Sycamore is 13-5 overall, 6-2 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.
As the season has progressed, he’s found out the team has more than enough with the two Nelsons developing into front-line starters.
Through Thursday, Scott Nelson was 4-0 with a 0.81 ERA and Cole Nelson was 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA. Combined with Colin Eggleson, who has had a few nice outings recently, the Spartans’ staff has been a pleasant surprise this season.
“[Scott Nelson] is not going to fool a lot of people, he’s just going to throw strikes,” Cavanaugh said. “Cole has pitched really well. Every time he’s gone out, he’s thrown strikes, he’s gone deep into games. He doesn’t let them run wild on him and he fields his position pretty well. He’s been great all year.”
The pitching rotation’s success has been no surprise to Cole Nelson.
“We came out last year and me and Scott and Matt Godinsky came out and were pretty dominant in most of our games,” he said. “This year is basically the same. … We’ve been pretty dominant in most of our games.”
That self-assurance might be part of the reason Cole has been so effective this year. Coming into the season, Cavanaugh didn’t have that same confidence.
“I never would’ve guessed that coming into the season,” he said. “I think there’s going be a time when it turns around and goes the other way, when we’re going to need to pick up our pitchers and score a lot of runs and win nine or 10 to eight. But that’s what good teams are able to do.”
Cavanaugh is confident that at some point the poor hitting will pick up, and he knows that the Spartans’ pitching might not be able to keep up with its current torrid pace.
But his pitching staff has given his team a luxury that he didn’t think he’d have this season.
“They’ve done everything we’ve asked,” Cavanaugh said. “There are five things you ask your pitchers to do: throw strikes, change speeds, work fast, field your position and hold runners close, and they do all of those things.”