By Ray Hamill — They’re not done yet by any means, and the business end of their season is just getting started, but on Wednesday evening the St. Bernard’s Crusaders took a moment to honor a senior class for the ages.
Before closing out a dominating regular season with another doubleheader sweep over South Fork at the Bear River sports complex, the Crusaders held their senior night to celebrate a baseball class that head coach Matt Tomlin described as special.
“We have 10 seniors on this year’s team and all 10 have contributed in a big way,” he said. “It’s a really special class.”
It’s also rare for a school the size of St. Bernard’s to have a senior class this size in baseball, but the stars are aligning for this group and there is every reason to expect a lengthy playoff campaign.
The Crusaders are currently ranked No. 1 in the North Coast Section Division-VI field, according to MaxPreps, and their regular-season dominance of the Nos. 2 and 4 teams in the division this spring — Ferndale and South Fork — suggests they will be heavy favorites in the section tournament.
The stellar senior class begins, of course, with hard-throwing pitchers Nick Dugan and Aidan Dorsch, who have been sensational on and off the mound all season long, as well as the big bat of third baseman Cayden Lee.
But it certainly doesn’t end there.
Players like Drew Vizenor, Braeden Zimmerman, Perry Bailey and Jeran Ford have all enjoyed big springs, as have Brody Tomlin, Deshaun Bailey and Peyton Smith, with all of them playing pivotal roles.
Dugan, who is one of the top prospects in all of California and has committed to play at Stanford after graduation, is 7-0 with an ERA of 1.22 and 80 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.
Dorsch, who has received plenty of college interest but has yet to make his decision on where he will play next year, is 5-0 with an ERA of 0.45 and 66 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Dugan also leads the team in batting average (.593), RBIs (32) and home runs (six), while Dorsch is averaging .500 with 22 RBs and four home runs.
Lee provides a steady glove at third base and is second on the team in average (.531) and home runs (five), while also hitting a team-high 13 doubles and driving in 28 runs.
He also is 3-1 on the mound with an ERA of 3.13.
Zimmerman, meanwhile, has been among the team,’s most improved players this season and has been a consistent bat in the lead-off spot and a reliable centerfielder.
He is batting .443 and has scored a team-high 33 runs.
“Braeden Zimmerman just had a monster year and really set the tone for our offense in that lead-off spot,” the head coach said.
Perry Bailey also is enjoying a big season and is batting .357 in his first year playing high school baseball.
“Perry Bailey has just been fantastic,” Matt Tomlin said of the starting left fielder who is better known for his exploits on the football field. “He just came out of nowhere. And he’s just such a great kid.”
Starting catcher Jeran Ford, who is batting .359 with seven doubles, also was a key addition to the team this year after transferring from Eureka High.
Ford’s presence behind the plate has been particularly key with his ability to handle the hard-throwing Dugan and Dorsch, who each throw in the 90s.
Brody Tomlin, meanwhile, has also been a key two-way player, with a record of 3-0 in eight appearances on the mound, while Vizenor is averaging .391 with 21 RBIs, six doubles and a pair of home runs.
Vizenor also has been one of the team’s most reliable gloves at shortstop.
And rounding out a dominating senior class, both Deshaun Bailey and Smith have each also been a consistent presence on the team, helping to lead the way for the younger players.