Brandon Eagles drawing applause again this season
As seventh period starts every day at Brandon High, most of baseball coach Matt Stallbaumer’s players are in a physical education class to wrap up the school day. As the class takes roll each day, they sit on one end of the gymnasium’s bleachers while on the other end roll is being taken for the wrestling class with Brandon’s current crop of state champions, who in early February earned the team’s 24th state title and 13th title in a row.
The Monday after the wrestling state finals, Stallbaumer said his players stood and applauded their wrestling classmates as roll was being called.
This Monday, the champion wrestlers repaid the respect, turning their attention toward the class of baseball players and acknowledging them, and junior pitcher Ryan Anderson, who threw a five-inning no-hitter in Thursday’s 11-0 win against Tampa Bay Tech.
“Our players are close to a lot of those guys on the wrestling team,” Stallbaumer said. “Winning becomes a habit, and that kind of respect is something I think both teams have for each other.”
The Eagles baseball team, the Class 7A state runner-up a season ago, is again building another strong contending team this season. Brandon (14-4, 9-0 in 7A-District 8) is undefeated in district and has again secured the top spot in the upcoming district tournament. And including Anderson’s (2-1) performance against TBT, the Eagles are finding success without the area household name, the scout-drawing stud or the Division-I recruit, instead relying on what took them to the state final a season ago — a team commitment.
“I’ve been on the James Ramsay (current South Florida outfielder) and Roderick Shoulders (drafted out of high school in the 20th round before going to Manatee Community College and being selected in the 25th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2011) end,” Stallbaumer said. “And it is great, and every coach in America would love to have guys like that, but sometimes having that becomes the focus and leaves those outside pieces of the team feeling neglected.
“Some guys are left questioning, ‘Where do we belong?’ And a team like we have now doesn’t have that. Every one of our 12-13 guys don’t have to question where they belong.”
Stallbaumer pointed to a season ago, after a core of successful seniors left and outsiders were questioning how Brandon would rebuild.
“I think a lot of those guys last year felt like people on the outside were wondering if they’d be able to win at all, and that pushed them to be better,” Stallbaumer said. “It’s become a tradition here now that each year the senior class worries about how are they going to leave this program.”
This season is not any different as seniors, including ace Eric Hinostroza (5-0 with a 0.55 ERA) and hard-hitting Miguel Fajardo, juniors Anderson, Austin Sullivan, Jacob Sugden, Jordan Feist, and sophomore Troy Linderman are looking to keep Brandon’s success going.
As for the recipient of the wrestling team’s ovation, Anderson said he and his teammates are a “family” and are just looking to improve on last season’s success.
“We know we all have a job to do, and our goal is to get better and better every day,” Anderson said. “We know if we do things the right way we can beat any team around.”
The Eagles have a pair of challenges ahead, hosting district opponent Hillsborough tonight and Steinbrenner on Saturday as Anderson takes the mound for his next turn.
Rain delay in Jesuit Easter Tourney Jesuit’s fifth annual Easter Baseball Tournament was subject to the will of Mother Nature as rain forced postponement of the four games slated for Thursday. Tigers coach Richie Warren said the schedule for today is to try to fit in the semifinal games, with Jesuit playing Colorado’s Regis Jesuit at 2:30 p.m. at Hyer Family Park and the tournament final scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Check for updates during the day on Twitter: @TBO_PrepSports.
Follow correspondent Jarrett Guthrie for Hillsborough County high school baseball coverage on Twitter: @JGuthrieTAMPA
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