WESTFIELD, NJ — Senior third basemen and co-captain Victor Cruz is off to a hot start for the Westfield High School varsity baseball team with a batting average of .409 and a team-leading two homeruns. He’s also tied first on the team in RBIs with five, tied first in triples with one and is second in doubles with two.

“It’s been a blessing, really,” Cruz said. “Obviously it’s good for me, but it helps out the team a lot and that’s what I’m grateful for. I think our team’s pretty good, so I mean they can do it without me, but obviously if I keep doing what I’m doing I can definitely help us out along the way.”

Cruz, this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week, was recently voted the top senior infielder in the state on NJ.com. He has been instrumental to the team’s success, according to head coach Bob Brewster.

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“Victor’s quick start has been an asset to the team,” Brewster said.  “His leadership has allowed us to get out to a 4-3 start. In our past two games Victor has been out with an illness and it has showed on the field.  We lost two close games and not having his presence in the lineup has definitely affected the team adversely.”

Cruz has been playing baseball for all of his life, and he doesn’t plan on stopping soon.

“It dates back a long way to when I was probably one or two years old with me and my dad in the backyard,” Cruz said. “It’s something I’ve always loved and I’m going to try to do it as long as I can.”

Cruz will continue his path next year at Rowan University where he has already committed to play baseball.

“It’s a huge step talent-wise,” Cruz said. “The game’s a lot faster. I think I’ve prepared myself for that step and hopefully I can succeed at that level. Junior year to senior year was probably my biggest improvement. I did a lot of work in the off season and I think it’s paying off this season.”

Brewster admired Cruz’s work ethic, noting that Cruz offers to stay after practice to work on his skills and to help less experienced players.

“As Victor came up through the ranks at Westfield he was always known as an outstanding third baseman,” Brewster said. “However, during his junior year he practiced, daily, at every infield position.  As a result of the players we had last year, we moved Victor to first base.  The result of this move allowed our team to really gel and produce an outstanding season.  We finished the year with a 22-6 record including a school record 18 consecutive wins.  I expect his quiet leadership to guide the Blue Devils to a successful season.”

Cruz enjoys helping lead his team as a captain.  

“Being a captain is a great feeling,” Cruz said. “Just to have last year’s captains nominate me is a good feeling and being able to help these guys to succeed this season is something I won’t forget. I think we had a rocky start but have a lot of talent and a lot of good players. This week should be a big week for us. If we pull off some wins, we can get back into the state rankings and do our thing.”

Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Now located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com