WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield High School boys varsity baseball team hopes to improve on the success of its 2014 season this spring. Last year, the Blue Devils bounced back from a 3-3 start to finish 20-4 on 17 straight victories. The team won the Union County Championship before losing to Millburn in the state-sectional finals.
One challenge will be the loss of several key players, four of whom are currently playing at the college level.
“We only have a couple of guys who were regular players last year, so we have a lot of new faces,” said head coach Robert Brewster. “Our JV team also won the county championship last year, so the ability level is there. It’ll just come down to doing the activities on the field at a high level.”
The pitching and defense, however, will be the team’s main focus.
“It’s the nature of the game today in high school baseball. Because of the change of bats three years ago, the scores are significantly lower. So basically, good pitching and defense is what’s going to win games,” Brewster said. “Last year was a prime example. We won a bunch of 1-0 games, 2-1 games and lost a 1-0 game. The premium is on pitching and defense. Scoring is a luxury; last year we didn’t hit as well as we did in the past but we still won a lot of games because of our defense and our pitching.”
Westfield has four senior pitchers in Jack Bunting, Ben Herbster, Sean Elliott and Andrew Malacrea, who all look to help the Blue Devils shut down opposing hitters. According to Brewster, the infield will be composed of Matt Catanzaro, Danny DoCampo, Chris Rinaldi and Mike Tivenan and the outfield of Colin Dursee, Michael Friel and Steve Barmakian.
“Behind the plate right now is where we have the least experience, and we’re trying to develop a catcher. We’ve got a lot of good juniors. We just have to find which one is going to be the strongest for us. Now it’s between two guys, Devin Anderson and George Devanney,” added Brewster.
Brewster knows that a deep post-season run starts with a solid regular season within the conference.
“My goal all of the time is to put together a good record to get a good seed in the state tournament and do well in the counties. And if anybody asks people around Union County, because we won it last year, we were in the finals the year before and we won it the year before that, we have a target on our back all of the time. People like nothing better than to knock Westfield off, so that’s always a goal of ours,” Brewster said. “And I think the hardest thing to win, believe it or not, is the conference. You play three games a week, so it shows the depth of your team, and I always want that to be our number one goal.”
The Blue Devils will kick off their season on the road against Scotch Plains-Fanwood on April 1 at 4 p.m.
Eric Storms is a sophomore at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.