By Ray Hamill — If baseball is a game to be enjoyed by children of all ages, Dylan Campbell seems to understand the concept as well as anyone.
The former McKinleyville High standout enjoyed a stellar second season with the Humboldt Crabs this summer, earning co-pitcher of the year honors on a team that was 33-16.
After a slow start the Crabs got red-hot, winning 26 of their final 33 games, but it’s not the team or personal accolades that Campbell will remember most, but rather the interaction he had with his teammates.
“It was just a fun summer,” he said from Iowa on Tuesday evening, after returning to Mount Mercy University for his senior campaign. “We had a bunch of goofballs and a bunch of guys who just wanted to have fun.”
The Crabs certainly appeared to enjoy themselves, overcoming a rocky 6-10 start to the campaign with some solid pitching and plenty of deep balls.
Team MVP Damian Henderson set a new single season record for most home runs with a wood bat with 10, while offensive player of the year Bryce Kirk tied the old record with nine.
Campbell was named co-pitcher of the year along with Kyle Pruhsmeier thanks to some outstanding performances out of the bullpen, where he became the team’s most reliable shutdown arm, as well as some impressive late starts.
“It was a year where I was happy to sit back and let the other guys get their innings,” he said. “But the coaches asked me to start a few games and I’m never going to say no to my coaches.”
Campbell, who transferred to Mount Mercy after two big years at College of the Redwoods, pitched 42 innings for the Crabs this summer, third most on the team, including three starts.
He struck out 34 and finished with an impressive ERA of just 1.71.
“I was happy with the way I played,” he said. “It was a good year all-around.”
The former Mack High standout was one of three local players with the team this summer, joining Fortuna’s Kokko Figueiredo and Eureka’s Aidan Morris.
Figueiredo featured extensively, playing in a team-high 46 games in what was also his second season with the club, and batted an impressive .363, third best on the team.
The former Husky star also walked a team-high 35 times, displaying his custom discipline at the plate.
“He’s just a hard out,” Campbell said of Figueiredo, who was also a teammate of his for two years at CR. “He knows the zone really well, and he takes pitches.”
Morris appeared in 32 games, batting .214 in his debut campaign with the Crabs.
For Campbell, the experience is one he is grateful for after growing up watching the team play.
“I was super excited to get the opportunity,” he said. “I had watched one of older cousins (Hop Sullivan) play years ago, and I knew I had to play really well at CR to get the chance.”
In addition to his big summer with the Crabs, Campbell also impressed this past spring at Mount Mercy, going 8-4 for the NAIA program with an ERA of 2.90.