By Brian Stanley

Contributing Writer

The 2019 baseball season brings more opportunities for Dunn School as the Earwigs transition back into playing in a league.

“We decided this year to get into the Coast Valley League, which is Valley Christian, Coast Union, Maricopa and us for baseball,” said Dunn head coach David Lawrence. “That makes it a little bit easier for us to get into the playoffs.”

Playing a freelance schedule since the Condor League dropped baseball following the 2014 season, the Earwigs were required by the CIF Southern Section to win 80 percent of their games to automatically qualify for the playoffs.

That all changes this season. All Dunn needs to do is to finish in the top two in the Coast Valley League standings to make it into the Division 5 playoffs.

The Earwigs return with a roster full of experience led by seniors Ethan Cloyd, Brandon Lawrence and John San Jule. All three have committed to play at Division I colleges next season.

“This is the most experienced team I have coached at Dunn since I started four years ago,” Lawrence said. “Pretty much everybody is back. We have a few new freshmen that I think can contribute this year.”

Cloyd was the Earwigs’ top hitter in 2018, leading the way with 33 hits, including 13 doubles, a triple and two home runs, while driving in 37 runs. He finished the season with a .516 batting average.

Cloyd “is primarily a catcher and he’s committed to Cal Berkeley,” Lawrence said. “He’s also our top pitcher.”

On the mound for Dunn, Cloyd threw a team-high 38 2/3 innings, striking out 36 batters, allowing 33 hits with a 1.99 earned run average last year. He finished with a 4-3 record in 10 appearances.

Brandon Lawrence, the Earwigs’ starting shortstop, is committed to play for the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Conference in 2020. In his junior year, he tallied 30 hits with 21 runs batted in and led the team with three home runs.

“He’s an incredible defensive shortstop. He’s made some real strong improvement strength wise, and I look forward to a lot of good things from him,” coach Lawrence said about Brandon Lawrence, who is also his son.

The Earwigs’ speedster, San Jule, will be transitioning to the outfield this season in preparation for his projected position in the lineup for the Ivy League’s Columbia Lions.

“He is going to move to center field this year. He was second base last year, but the coach wants him to man the outfield at Columbia next year so we’re going to stick him out there,” Lawrence said. “He’s a 6.6 60-yard dash, so he should cover a lot of ground out there for us.”

San Jule showed his speed for the Earwigs in 2018 as he stole 24 bases. Collecting 27 hits at the plate, San Jule carried a team high .551 batting average.

Coach Lawrence is looking for added support in the batting order from juniors Cade Ford and Ben Ableman along with sophomore Ian Valdez.

“Ford is pretty special,” coach Lawrence said. “Incredible hitter, he’s got a lot of pop in his bat. He’s got a good head on his shoulders about knowing the game.”

Ford saw time at first base, at catcher and on the mound last season. He had a team-low seven earned runs among the starting pitchers.

Ableman, a boarding school student from Canada, will be in the infield for the Earwigs alternating between second and third base along with getting some innings in pitching.

“He’s been working really hard and I look for a lot of good things from him,” coach Lawrence said about the international infielder’s offseason preparation.

As a freshman, Valdez put up hitting numbers that rivaled those produced by the upperclassmen. Hitting .338, Valdez totaled 25 hits with 17 runs driven in and was the only freshman to send one out of the park for a home run.

“As far as a pure, raw talent, he’s got a lot of power and he’s got a lot of potential,” the coach said.

Playing a 23-game schedule, the Earwigs open the season at home against the Orcutt Academy Spartans on Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m.

Dunn begins Coast Valley League play on the road at Coast Union in Cambria on Feb. 28 and will meet all three league opponents twice.