EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ — The East Brunswick baseball team is scheduled to open its 2021 regular season next week with three seniors who saw action the last time the Bears had a varsity season in 2019.
Shortstop Jordan Williams and center fielder Zach Zebro each saw significant action as sophomores, and second baseman Damien Charleston also played a part-time role on the 2019 varsity team.
But having an inexperienced varsity roster puts East Brunswick in the same position as most of the teams on its schedule, since nobody played an inning in the lost spring of 2020 when the entire season was canceled in the early days of the pandemic.
"We will be built on speed and defense," said East Brunswick head coach Chris Kenney, who called his team "solid up the middle with starting senior shortstop Jordan Williams and second baseman Damien Charleston, both of whom have very good range and a strong arm, and either Sebastian Vega or Zebro in center field."
Williams should bat third and Vega will be the cleanup hitter.
Zebro was the starting quarterback on the football team and played guard for the East Brunswick basketball team. Leadoff batter Dylan Lugo will play right field. All three outfielders are "tremendous athletes who can track down fly balls with the best."
Big senior left-handed hitter Anderson Edwards will be behind the plate and a threat to drive the ball at the plate.
The Bears enter the season with competition for the starting spots at first and third base. Freshman Dustin McGuinness, sophomore Michael Marchese, and juniors Romeo Diaz and Christian Bermudez will be competing for time. The Bears will be backed up by what Kenney terms a "talented junior and senior class" featuring Gregory Blum, Ryan Basham, Ravi Jagannath, Aiden Gonzalez, Vincent LaRocca, Nicholas London, Michael Lozzi.
East Brunswick will emphasize being aggressive early or ahead in the count and to shorten up late in the count to put the ball in play. "We will look to hit for average and utilize our team speed to put pressure on the defense, which (we hope will) allow us to challenge for the Red Division and Central Jersey Group 4 titles," Kenney said.
Pitchers will be asked to work quickly, locate and take advantage of their defense, Kenney said. The pitching staff will be led by seniors Chris Procacciini, Williams, Charleston and newcomers Marchese and McGuinness. Ryan Basham, Ravi Jagannath and Aiden Gonzalez are relief arms who could play a large role.