Head coach Sam Joseph and the Jamestown Eagles are in familiar territory.
At 8-0, the Eagles are sitting comfortably on top of the Senior Babe Ruth Class A West Region standings, exactly where the birds finished the 2019 American Legion Class A West regular season at 12-2. A pleasant surprise has been the play of Jamestown freshmen Mason Lunzman and Nolan Nenow, players Jamestown was going to need to have step up in order to find success.
The Jamestown High School sophomores-to-be -- with Lunzman patrolling right field and Nenow in left -- have helped shore up the back end of a batting order that's producing nearly 10 runs (9.4) per contest through the first 12 games of 2020. Lunzman is carrying an on-base percentage of .405 with five walks and eight singles, while Nenow is slashing .438/.550/.562 in 16 at-bats.
"They just know how to compete and how to play the game," said Joseph, in his second year at the helm. "They're two freshmen not playing like freshmen, and that's a big tip of the cap to their previous coaches Nate Soulis and Tanner Lunzman. They did a really good job of getting them ready for the next level."
Being ready is one thing, but instantly gelling with the Eagles' already seasoned bats out of the chute is another. First baseman Max Anderson, shortstop Chris Erickson and catcher Tommy Falk -- to nobody's surprise -- have been the senior bedrock to Jamestown's offense, which to this point has outscored opponents 113-57.
Anderson is slugging over .800, averaging .452 with nine extra-base hits including three triples. Erickson (.500/.654/.639) and Falk (.357/.550/.714) have combined for 23 walks and follow Anderson's team-leading 16 RBIs with 11 and 10, respectively. Erickson has yet to strike out in 36 at-bats and has stolen 12 bases, while Falk has clubbed a team-leading five doubles.
"Chris, Tommy and Max are doing what seniors do. They're making the most out of their last year of summer baseball," Joseph said. "Every time they swing and they miss a ball, they smile because they're seeing the ball very well."
Jamestown (9-3 overall) went 1-3 to begin the season against Class AA's Dickinson Roughriders and Fargo Stars, but are since unbeaten against conference foes. The pitching staff is being led decision-wise by Connor Hoyt (3-0) and Jakob Schempp (2-1), while third baseman Jacoby Nold (.313/.463/.344) is also batting above .300 with seven RBIs and eight runs scored in 32 at-bats.
Hitting, however, hasn't been much of a problem.
"It doesn't surprise me because of how much work we put in during practices and what we did in the offseason," Joseph said. "What's impressive to me right now is how we're all gelling together with the younger guys. I didn't realize we were going to gel so fast together."
But, of course, there's always room for improvement. Jamestown put up a robust 61 runs in defeating Williston 24-3, 8-3 and Watford City 13-1, 16-6 this week, but left a total of 32 runners stranded on base over the four road games.
"We need to get better at situational hitting, and also making sure that we capitalize on those kinds of things when teams give us those opportunities," Joseph said.
The competition gets kicked up a notch this coming week, with Jamestown traveling to face the Bismarck Representatives on Monday before traveling to face the Mandan A's on Thursday. The Reps dealt Jamestown one of its two regular-season conference losses in 2019.
"Bismarck, they've got pitchers," Joseph said. "We need to stay positive throughout the game. There's gonna be times where they do hold us for a little bit, just kinda how Watford did, and then we just gotta pick our moments and capitalize on those when given a chance to. We can't leave runners out on base."
But so far, so good for the Senior Babe Ruth Eagles. Jamestown returns home to Jack Brown Stadium on June 29 hosting the Bismarck Capitals.
"Everything's just starting to come together," Joseph said. "Obviously the tricky part is how are we going to try to keep that going? We're going to have a big test coming up here next week. That's where we're going to see where we're actually really at in the conference."
(Thru 12 games)
Max Anderson: .452/.520/.810, 42 AB, 19 H, 4 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 13 R, 6 BB, 6 SO, 1 SF, 1 HBP, 3 SB.
Chris Erickson: .500/.654/.639, 36 AB, 18 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 11 RBI, 16 R, 12 BB, 0 SO, 4 HBP, 12 SB.
Tommy Falk: .357/.550/.714, 28 AB, 10 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 13 R, 11 BB, 4 SO, 1 HBP, 2 SB.
Jacoby Nold: .313/.463/.344, 32 AB, 10 H, 1 2B, 7 RBI, 8 R, 8 BB, 2 SO, 1 HBP, 3 SB.
Mason Lunzman: .290/.405/.355, 31 AB, 9 H, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 10 R, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1 HBP, 3 SB.
Nolan Nenow: .438/.550/.562, 16 AB, 7 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1 HBP.
Isaac Mimong: .259/.512/.296, 27 AB, 7 H, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 10 R, 14 BB, 10 SO, 1 SF, 1 HBP, 5 SB.
Connor Hoyt: .188/.366/.250, 32 AB, 6 H, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 8 R, 8 BB, 4 SO, 1 HPB, 2 SB.
Gage Orr: .263/.548/.368, 19 AB, 5 H, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 7 R, 9 BB, 6 SO, 3 HBP, 2 SB.
Michael Mahoney: .556/.733/.778, 9 AB, 5 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 7 R, 5 BB, 3 SO, 1 HBP, 2 SB.
Senior Babe Ruth Baseball
Class A West Region
Bismarck Caps 6-0
Bismarck Reps 2-0
Watford City 2-2
Bismarck Sens 0-5