Brunswick baseball ready to take the next step

Brunswick School senior captain Bradley Wilpon fires the ball to the plate during a game last year. Wilpon will lead a very deep pitching staff for the Bruins this season. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Brunswick School senior captain Bradley Wilpon fires the ball to the plate during a game last year. Wilpon will lead a very deep pitching staff for the Bruins this season. — Paul Silverfarb photo

With an extremely deep pitching staff, solid hitting from top to bottom and a desire to make it known that the Brunswick School baseball program will be strong for years to come, it’s no wonder why head coach Johnny Montanez can’t stop smiling.

“I think we are further along than we anticipated,” Montanez said. “Our boys are playing very well. This is a great group and the camaraderie between this group is amazing. Our pitching staff is as deep as we have ever had it and we are pretty deep at every position. It’s also a young, youthful group. We have a team loaded with sophomores and juniors, so we are looking good.”

The Bruins will be led by four captains this year, as seniors Bradley Wilpon and Teddy Maynard, as well as junior Billy O’Malley and Will O’Brien, plan on helping Brunswick reach great heights.

“I see a lot of depth on this team and a lot of youth,” Maynard said. “There are a lot of sophomores on this team and a lot of guys with a lot of potential. I think right now we are playing pretty well. The results have been good, but we still need to improve if we are going to try and get a championship.”

Wilpon has been a pitcher on the team since his freshman year and was the first athlete that Montanez and his coaching staff brought up to the varsity team when he took over the program. Wilpon will be playing at the University of Pennsylvania starting in the fall.

“They are just amazing kids,” Montanez said. “Bradley has helped us bring this program up to a new level. Billy O’Malley is as good of an athlete as one could ever coach. He’s fantastic, both on and off the field. Ted has played since his sophomore year and he’s been nothing short of spectacular. He demonstrates nothing but excellence in every aspect of the game and is a phenomenal kid and leader.”

O’Brien has also been with the varsity team since his sophomore year and Montanez considers the senior a coach’s dream.

“He comes in, works his bottom off and always has smile on his face,” Montanez added. “He’s always making people around him better.”

“It’s an honor to be a leader here,” O’Brien said. “It’s just a great group of guys and the chemistry on this team is great. Everybody is friends here on the field and off the field. It’s been a really good situation so far this season. Our pitching is our biggest strength because of the amount of guys that can throw strikes and give us innings.”

Brunswick’s biggest strength this season will be at the pitching position, as the Bruins have a least seven guys that can come in and get the job done. Leading the way will be Wilpon and fellow senior O’Brien, however a sophomore group of Connor Redahan, Michael Marzonie, Ryan Popp, Teddy Sabato and Trevor Johnson are all solid on the mound. In addition, seniors Joseph Hadley and Ryan Hardin are strong and Montanez can turn to anybody in the pitching staff in key spots.

“We have a plethora of arms we can turn to and I couldn’t be happier with every one of them,” Montanez said. “We are extremely lucky to have a kid of Bradley’s magnitude here. It’s great to have a Division I pitcher on your staff. Michael Marzonie has come in this year and pitched great. He’s 2-0, gone up against Choate and Kent and shut them both down. We know that we can go to any one of them and they can throw strikes at a high pace. They are amazing. The cool thing is that the kids understand their roles and when they are called upon. They are competitors.”

In the field, O’Malley is one of the most athletic players on the team and can play numerous positions. For the Bruins, O’Malley will be playing shortstop.

“We look great,” O’Malley said. “This is the best camaraderie that we’ve had on this team. This team is not divided and everybody plays for each other. We are really unselfish and that’s a huge key to our game. We are playing a lot of small ball by bunting and moving kids over. Everybody wants to help out and being unselfish makes things a lot easier.”

When not pitching, Marzonie will be playing the hot corner for Brunswick. In addition to his leadership as captain, Maynard will be the team’s everyday second baseman, while Popp will be occupying first base in nearly every game. Helping guide Brunswick’s dynamic pitching staff will be sophomore Wilson Salomon.

Redahan will be playing left field for Brunswick this season. Joining him will be Johnson at center field and Hardin in right. Because Hardin is still recovering from an injury and hasn’t seen any playing time this season, Sabato will be playing right field and helping O’Malley out at short.

“We have a number of kids that we turn to,” Montanez said. “Nothing is set in stone yet. We don’t want to rely on nine guys at this point when 18 kids are doing the job. We want to use as many kids as we can.”

In addition, junior Kirk Myer, junior C.J. Tyler, junior Kevin Pendo and senior Evan Jonokuchi will see time in the field this year.

“Our biggest problem this year is where to put everybody,” O’Malley said. “Everybody can play any position. It’s just a matter of putting people in certain places. It’s a huge juggling act and our coaches have been doing an amazing job at putting our best team out there every time.”

At the dish, Brunswick combines speed and power, not to mention the ability to  get a runner moving along the bases. Maynard and Johnson are the team’s top two hitters in the lineup, while Redahan bats third and O’Malley is the team’s clean-up hitter. Sabato’s big bat will be fifth in the lineup, while Popp will be batting sixth. Marzonie hits seventh and Salomon usually hits eighth.

“We are a very good hitting team,” Montanez said. “It’s the best hitting team we’ve had here in a long time. We record 16 to 20 hits a game and the boys can absolutely shell the leather off the baseball. But we also are very keen on scoring runs. We will do whatever it takes to get that run across. We are six games in and only have two home runs. If our third or fourth guys has to bunt, or having our No. 9 guy swing for the fences to get a sac fly, we are going to do it.”

Montanez said that the strength of the team is the chemistry and how the team battles for each other.

“They are great and just refuse to be outworked,” Montanez said. “I still think we have room to improve. Our baserunning still needs to improve. From time to time, it’s good, but it can also be weak. We need to stop those baserunning errors that we had in the past.”

While Montanez has high hopes for his Brunswick baseball team, it’s not just about winning for the head coach.

“Absolutely I think we can win the FAA,” Montanez said. “Every day our goal is to get better. We want each day that we play to be our best day, only to be outdone by tomorrow. For us, we can definitely compete with the best teams in the FAA, but more importantly we need to be the best team out on the field. We will do that by eliminating mistakes and the things that we can control. We also need to have fun. If we can do those three things, I think we will be extremely successful this year.”
“We want to win every game,” Maynard said. “We can’t look forward because we need to take things one game at a time. We just want to play our best.”

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