Brunswick’s baseball team gave head coach Johnny Montanez the perfect going-away gift in his final game guiding the squad after 13 successful seasons at the helm.
The Bruins won the FAA Tournament championship in Montanez’s last game coaching the team, topping rival Hamden Hall Country Day School in the title game last week, 10-8, in Hamden.
The championship win put the finishing touch on a 12-6 season for the Bruins and capped Montanez’s head coaching career with the team in title-winning fashion. In 13 seasons, Montanez led the Bruins to five FAA Tournament titles and seven FAA regular season championships.
In the FAA Tournament final against host Hamden Hall, Brunswick set the tone offensively, scoring six runs in the first inning.
“We always felt our lineup all year long was waiting to put it together,” Montanez said. “There were always times when a portion of the lineup was going through their process. In the final game, they all put it together 1-9 in the batting order. In the first inning, we batted around with no outs. Our guys were going deep into counts.”
Brunswick faced a tough Hamden Hall starting pitcher, but scored six first-inning runs, stringing hits together.
“We were facing a kid committed to the University of Connecticut,” Montanez noted. “He was very good.”
Senior leadoff hitter Player Crosby singled to start the first inning, then senior Boston Flannery delivered a single down the left field line and senior Riley Redahan drew a walk. Junior Reed Hyde followed with a single up the middle, giving the visiting Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Michael Yeager, a junior, drove in a run with a hit, junior Alex Giannuzzi had a run-scoring single and sophomore Jackson Shepelsky delivered a hit in the Bruins’ impressive first inning, which saw them bat around.
Hamden Hall came back however, scoring six runs of its own in the bottom of the first inning. Crosby got the start on the mound for the Bruins and the right-hander was relieved by Flannery, also a hard-throwing right-hander. Flannery pitched 6 2/3 innings for the well-earned win.
“Player Crosby has some of the best stuff on our team,” Montanez said. “His ball moves, he has life to it. He has been such an asset to us. He does everything he has been asked to do. Player came in as a pitcher only and we asked him to play the outfield and leadoff. He would not have won without that combination, while he had a tough day, it was that combination that beat Hamden Hall the first time we played them.”
Flannery, a Major League Baseball Draft prospect, who has committed to compete at the University of North Carolina, struck out nine batters to earn the championship victory.
“Having Boston on your team is a game-changer,” Montanez said. “He is one of the best pitchers in the country and arguably, the most efficient I have coached in terms of quality and quantity. He pitched 60 innings and has 84 strikeouts, maybe 90 strikeouts. He is special.”
The Hornets took a 7-6 lead in the second inning, but the Bruins scored three runs in the third inning to go ahead for good, 9-7. Shepelsky keyed the inning with a two-run triple to right center field and Giannuzzi hit an RBI single, making it 9-7 in favor of the Bruins.
Hamden Hall closed to within 9-8 with a run in the fifth inning, but the Bruins went ahead by two runs again in the top of the sixth inning. Yeager, junior Jerry Guzman and Giannuzzi each posted hits in the inning, giving Brunswick a 10-8 edge.
Giannuzzi collected four RBIs, Yeager had three hits, Hyde had two hits and two RBIs and Shepelsky registered two hits and drove in a pair of runs in the winning effort.
Brunswick experienced tough losses to FAA foes Hopkins School and St. Luke’s School during the regular season – defeats that served as motivation for the confident group heading into the postseason.
“That first game we lost in the FAA was a huge learning experience for us,” Montanez said. “We faced a good Hopkins team, but we all knew we could have and should have, beaten them. It was an eye-opener for us. There was no doubt in my mind that even though we lost in the semis last year (FAA semifinals to Hamden Hall) we were still the program to beat. Our boys are ready and they are always ready.”
Liam Butler, Crosby, Flannery, James Moore, Riley Redahan, Sam Sealy, Jurgis Schmedlen, Wyatt Triestman and Trip Williams were the Bruins’ seniors – who are now 2023 Brunswick graduates.
“They were exactly what you would want from seniors,” Montanez noted. “They were fantastic. They did their very best to be their best and they just wanted to do what was right for the program.”
Flannery, Redahan and Yeager were the Bruins’ leading hitters throughout the season. Crosby, Hyde, Giannuzzi, Guzman, Shepelsky and Jones were also among the players in Brunswick’s lineup that picked up the pace significantly, offensively as the season progressed.
Montanez ends his baseball coaching career at Brunswick with a record of 164-64-1. Making a career change, Montanez will soon begin working with ResiHealth – a preventative healthcare company serving 29 states.
“It’s sad to leave a community you love,” Montanez said. “I love Brunswick. The Brunswick community has been amazing to me and my family and they continue to be great for my family. I am also excited for the opportunity to join ResiHealth.”
Categories: Brunswick School, Spring sports
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