Brentwood baseball knocking off rust

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Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Brentwood Spartans experienced a rocky start on the diamond, losing their first three games including back-to-back section defeats to Fort Cherry.

Brentwood opened the season with three returning starters from 2019, along with six first-year players and four others.

“Some of them were able to play over the summer, but for some, it has been two years since they’ve played baseball,” coach Greg Perdziola said. ” We will be a very inexperienced team to start the season.

“We may go through some growing pains, but as we gain experience and learn what it takes to win, we should get better as the season goes on.”

The three returning starters are seniors Mike Guckes (C/3B), Riley Brendel (OF) and junior Kyle Keener (IF/P).

Guckes has been playing baseball for most of his life — he started out as a shortstop 13 years ago — and has high hopes for this year’s team at Brentwood.

“We are striving to get to the playoffs and see how well we will do there,” Guckes said. “Most of us have played together for years, and we work pretty well together.”

Brendel is a two-sport standout, competing in baseball and basketball, and plans to continue his baseball career in college.

He has a modest goal for the 2021 spring season.

“I want to keep my strikeouts as low as possible,” Brendel said.

Players competing for middle infield positions for the Spartans are Keener, seniors Josh Griener and Brendan Wertz, sophomore Zach Yankee and freshman Blake Davis.

Guckes, who plans to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio following graduation, and junior Kevin McCleary are sharing the catching duties and also will see time at third base.

Freshman Zach Wuenschell and senior Kiran Gurung, a first-year player, are first basemen.

The outfield consists of Brendel in center, junior Lucas Huntley in left and senior first-year player J.D. Slater in right. Sophomore Talan Kammermeier will also rotate into the outfield.

Griener, Huntley, McCleary, Keener, Wertz and Slater make up the pitching corps.

“Their development will be a big part of how successful we will be this year,” Perdziola said. “The main thing we have been working on is trying to keep the opposing hitters off-balance. Our pitchers are not going to have a high strikeout rate, so we will have to be good defensively in the field. We have to be good at making the routine play and not give the other team extra outs.

Prior to 2020, Brentwood qualified for the WPIAL playoffs five consecutive times. The Spartans defeated Summit Academy and lost to Shenango in the 2019 playoffs to finish 8-9 overall.

“I expect us to continue our playoff streak,” Brendel said. “In my opinion, I think our team’s biggest strength is our positive attitude. We have the ability to pick each other up when a mistake is made.”

Brentwood is a member of Section 4-2A, joining Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Clairton, Fort Cherry and Seton LaSalle.

“We are in a new section,” Perdziola said, “and I don’t know to much about the teams in the section, but it looks to be very good.

“Seton LaSalle is ranked No. 1 in AA, so they are loaded, and Char-Houston is ranked No. 3. Our goal is to be competitive every game and make the playoffs.”

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