After an absence of three years, Broadneck’s travel team, the Bayside Bears, came back this summer. Coached by Bruins varsity coach Matt Skrenchuk and made up of players from both the junior varsity and varsity squads, the Bears went 20-8-2, with their best tournament finish being sixth out of 58 teams that participated.
Started by Skrenchuk in 2019, the team stopped playing due to the pandemic. While winning games and tournaments is important for the players and coaches, the team has two more valuable aspects. The first is to give players, especially those who were blocked by juniors and seniors, more playing time and allow them to gain more experience. And secondly, because there are players from the JV squad on the team, Skrenchuk can evaluate players who could be the next members of the varsity squad.
“We had a nice senior class that has moved on,” Shrenchuk said. “So, I thought it was important to build some cohesion with our underclassmen and allow them to spend more time with our coaching staff this summer.”
One such player is Nate Shilling. While he was on the varsity squad last year, Shilling had just a handful of at-bats all season long, so this summer was an opportunity for him to prove he should start next season, and he delivered. Shilling finished with a .410 average, with 32 hits, 12 doubles, one triple, one home run and 20 RBIs. Other players like Sean Murphy, who Skrenchuk said was the Bruins’ best pitcher last year, got to show their skills. In 33 innings pitched, Murphy had an earned run average (ERA) just under 2.08 and threw 29 strikeouts.
Coach Skrenchuk got the idea for the Bayside Bears from seeing the Bruins soccer and basketball teams get more practice because of their ability to play in a summer league, which Anne Arundel County didn’t have for baseball.
“What this allowed us to do, by picking up games and tournaments, was practice, which is where our kids really got better,” Skrenchuk said. “Nate had 89 plate appearances this summer, so it was a full summer of me getting to evaluate him and see how he fits into what we’re trying to do next spring.”
Next spring, with the evaluations he was able to do this summer and the additional playing time his players got, Skrenchuk and the Bruins will look to advance further in the playoffs after losing in the first round last year.