A grand slam season: How a turn of events led to a record-breaking season for the varsity baseball team
by Ethan Finver
At 22–6, the 2016 WHS boys baseball team put together an impressive run in pursuit of the North 2, Group 4 State Championship last week. But the season came to an end last Tuesday with an 8–0 home loss to powerhouse North Hunterdon.
After a slow start (0–3) with losses to Scotch Plains–Fanwood, Cranford and Bridgewater–Raritan, the Blue Devils looked to their seniors to make the most of their final year, going on to record 18 consecutive wins, which, according to Athletic Director Ms. Sandra Mamary, is a new school record.
Starting with a 9–5 come-from-behind victory over Elizabeth High School on April 9, the Blue Devils continued to blow their competition away game after game. They outscored their opponents 164-43 over their next 18 games, mercying seven teams in the process. Having not lost a game for nearly a month and a half, the boys relied on their seniors as well as their “stellar lineup all the way through, solid pitching and one of the best infielding teams in the state,” according to senior centerfielder J. Mack Rembisz. “A lot of us thought we had a team that could realistically go undefeated; we had everything going for us.”
Head Coach Bob Brewster takes pride in keeping so many seniors on the team, saying, “Our seniors were just outstanding this year. They worked every day, there was no cutting of practice; they worked to get better every single day. Even the guys who knew they might not play so much knew it was their job to be the ‘bench jockeys’ and rally their team.” The senior-heavy team made it as far as the semifinals in both the county and state tournaments this season, as well as claiming a Watchung Conference title.
With 13 seniors on the roster, many of whom are continuing their careers at the college level next year, the team will now look to juniors Alex Pansini, Connor Scanlon and Kobi Wolf, as well as sophomore Jake Vall-Llobera, for its production. With 31 strikeouts in 37 innings in just his junior season, Pansini took control of games when he was on the mound and will look to step up his game even more next season for his senior year. Brewster said, “[Alex] just loves the game…. I know a lot of teams were happy not to see him on the mound against them.”
For everyone on this team, it certainly was a bittersweet ending. Rembisz said, “It was awesome to be a part of a team that will be written down in the record books.”