Brookfield’s baseball roster might not include a flashy Division I recruit. It may not include a player drawing professional scouts to its games like some of its SWC opposition. And it might not have been part of the talk as preseason favorites, but that hasn’t stopped the Bobcats.
Brookfield is 9-2 and leads the SWC with a 6-0 conference record.
Brookfield has won nine of its last 10 games, including a 5-4 come-from-behind win against Masuk on Tuesday. The Bobcats play at New Fairfield (8-2) Friday at 4:15 p.m.
“I think we have always felt like the underdogs,” Brookfield coach Matt Hart said. “We’re sitting here now on top of the SWC and we still feel like the underdogs. Against Masuk we felt that way and I think that has been driving us.”
Drew Martin, a junior center fielder and late inning hero against Masuk, has been the driving force behind Brookfield’s success all season.
“(Martin) has been insane, it is almost jaw dropping,” Hart said. “Every game it is just hit after hit. He will have games where he goes 1-for-2 with a couple of walks and his average goes down. Everything is hit hard, too.”
Martin, a leadoff hitter, is batting .532 (25-47) with 16 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
“I didn’t expect this, but we have trained a lot in the offseason and I came in feeling good,” Martin said. “I was hitting the ball well and it has carried over into games so far.”
Since collecting two hits in his varsity debut, Martin has managed to hit safely in every game he has played.
“Once you get a couple of hits and catch that fire,” Martin said, “then you just try to stay with it as long as possible.”
Martin delivered a single with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, scoring three runs to give Brookfield a 5-4 lead.
“We were chomping at the bit all game so I was feeling pretty confident,” Hart said. “We had stranded runners earlier in the game so I knew it was just a matter of time before we broke out.”
Gabriel Silva proceeded to close out the final inning, celebrating with what has become his signature backflip.
“He’s does that Ozzie Smith,” Hart said. “I knew he could do it and one day he just pulled it out.”
Silva has been Brookfield’s most dominant arm with a 2-0 record, 2.23 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.
“Gabe has been great,” Hart said. “It is tough because he is such a good shortstop. He isn’t the biggest guy, but he can get it up to 84-85, hence the strikeouts.”
Hart has worked with Brookfield baseball for six years starting with the freshman team, and is having a storybook first season as the varsity head coach.
“I couldn’t have dreamt it any better to be honest,” said Hart, whose Bobcats will compete in the Class L state tournament. “I have known these kids for a while so I knew there was some potential and talent within our organization. We have had talent in the past but this year has been all about execution and energy.”
Brookfield is having one of its best seasons in school history, which goes beyond the performance of just Martin.
“We may not have that one big recruited player,” Hart said. “But we have those 12 really good players who come together with great chemistry.”
“Our team chemistry has had an impact,” Martin said. “We have a brotherhood, and the closer you are with your teammates the easier it is to pick each other up, and you know everybody’s personalities and how they are. It goes a long way.”
Brookfield’s unique team bond stems from years of summer ball together, where staying local has become less common across the state.
“I have been playing with these guys my whole life so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure coming in,” Martin said. “I am used to playing with these guys and coming up with them, it just felt like playing another game with my friends.”
The team’s culture has been molded by senior captains Sam Weigel and Zak Droukas, who entered the season on a mission after losing their junior years.
“These kids have a great work ethic. If we have practice at 3 (p.m.) they will be there at 2,” Hart said. “That starts with our senior leadership and captains. They drive that with their passion, nothing is getting in their way.”
Brookfield is no longer under the radar, but it is still playing with an attitude it has something to prove.
“We have a great team, we knew we were underdogs, but we also knew we had a special group here,” Martin said. “We wanted to go out there and show everybody what Brookfield baseball is and what’s coming.”
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