Inderkum Baseball Off To Best Start In School History

Photo: M. Laver

Photo: M. Laver

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Eddie Cervantes has been around the block a time or two.

The first-year head coach for the Inderkum High School varsity baseball team is a former minor league baseball player, renowned high school football and baseball referee, and a professional winter ball mentor and coach in Arizona.

But for the first time in his 63 years, he is a head high school baseball coach.

“I tend to have a knack for doing things in reverse,” Cervantes said.

Inderkum (6-1) is off to the best start in school history, and returning players like senior third basemen Troy Thomas, say having someone with over four decades of knowledge of baseball has been instrumental for the hot start for the Tigers.

“I think we respect Coach Eddie more because of the way he coaches us,” Thomas said. “He teaches us differently. He takes the time to tell us what we are doing wrong and teaches how to do it correctly.”

The coach isn’t so quick to praise himself. He says the connection the players have had spending months together in summer leagues has built camaraderie and team unity for Inderkum.

“When you play that much together, it lends itself to having a little bit more success,” Cervantes said. “I personally think I don’t take hardly any credit for the success because of that.”

Led by sophomore centerfielder Austin Thurman, the Tigers opened the season with a 6-0 record before losing to Grant High 9-2 on Thursday.

Going into Thursday’s game, Thurman was in the top-20 in the Sac Joaquin Section in batting average (.571), RBI (14), on base percentage (.679) and leads the section in slugging percentage (1.190).

Standing at 5-foot-9 and about 165 pounds, Thurman does not pass the eye test for a power hitter.

But the sophomore says that coaches, including mentor and former NY Mets and Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manual, say it’s his “bat speed” as the reason for his power surge this season.

“It’s a combination of things,” Cervantes said. “It’s his pure athletic ability…he is a step ahead of everybody else. That’s because, as I would call it, unusual athletic ability.”

On the mound for Inderkum is a luxury that most high school programs do not have, three left handed starting pitchers.

With sophomore Isaiah Nunez, senior Marc Higgins and junior-ace Carl Anderson, Cervantes says it can be troublesome having so many southpaws in the rotation.

“Having three lefties is almost a curse,” Cervantes said. “At times you are looking for that right hander. But we are locked in the situation.”

And an embarrassment in riches, too.

Cervantes says he hopes the Woodland Easter Tournament will give him the chance to work through all of his pitchers and give them the equal amount of time on the mound to figure out even more which pitcher works best in specific situations.

After being hired in late January, even a seasoned vet of the game, Cervantes is still learning his team. And with just four seniors on the team, the players are just figuring out who they are, too.

“Sometimes you can get fooled by the talent you have.” Cervantes said. “It’s the nature of youth and immaturity and lack of experience. The more you play, the more experience you get.”

Along with Higgins (14 strikeouts) and Thomas (eight RBI), the Tigers will rely on the experience of fellow seniors Dylan Akins (.671 avg.) and Jacob Smith to battle through tough losses, like the one to rival Grant on Thursday.

But even as a sophomore, Thurman feels this season’s team is talented and mature enough to contend for a league title and maybe the wisdom of their coach is rubbing off on the young team.

“We want to win the TCC,” Thurman said.

Reach Trevor Horn at [email protected] and on Twitter @trevhorn.


Photo: M. Laver


Photo: M. Laver

Speak Your Mind