Berkley baseball team looking to expand on record win total set last year

By: Mike Moore | Woodward Talk | Published March 30, 2011

 Berkley senior Brendan Tomaszewski waits for a pitch during a batting session March 24. The Bears set a program record for wins with 25 last season and have bigger goals for 2011.

Berkley senior Brendan Tomaszewski waits for a pitch during a batting session March 24. The Bears set a program record for wins with 25 last season and have bigger goals for 2011.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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BERKLEY — Jordan Gruppen is ready to tweak.

More than that really isn’t needed.

If a first-year coach ever inherited a team that exemplifies the saying “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” it’s the Berkley High baseball coach.

“We’ll change a few things and work on some small stuff in a different way, but there isn’t a lot I need or want to do differently,” Gruppen said last week. “Things worked last year with this group, and they look pretty strong right off the bat.”

Things certainly did “work.”

The 2010 Bears finished the year 25-11, setting a program record for wins in a season. They were also 12-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division and didn’t see their playoff journey end until a tough loss in the district final.

The 2011 version is eerily similar as far as the roster is concerned. Most guys are back in the fray, including nine seniors who returned to the team this year.

Gruppen said the defense is still coming together, but he boasted about a lineup that’s sure to produce plenty of runs (7.6 per game last year) and a pitching staff that will improve on its 5.3 runs per game allowed a year ago.

“Defense will be the key,” he added. “We’re going to hit, steal and score. And we may not have any big-league pitchers, but we have guys that will throw strikes and get outs.”

“I think this team looks real good,” senior first baseman Adam McDowell said. “There’s a veteran presence everywhere. Confidence is sky high, and we expect to do a lot of the same things we did a year ago. … There’s a lot to live up to, but we have just as much talent. Now we have to have an even better work ethic.”

Asked about that confidence, fellow senior Mark Meisner said it had as much to do with past wins as it did with current players.

“When you have nine seniors and bring back all that chemistry and leadership, you’re working with guys that know what it takes,” the shortstop said. “We know what it takes to win. We know what to expect.”

Gruppen, who just finished his first season at the helm of the Berkley girls basketball team, may be in his first year with the baseball squad, but he already has a solid knowledge of the guys calling him “coach.” For the past three seasons, he managed the Bears’ junior varsity team and has coached nearly his entire current roster for at least one season.

“I’m excited about the whole situation,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to what these guys can do. This is a group that has a chance to be a contender in the league and come playoff time.”

“To leave high school by breaking our own win record would be pretty cool,” Meisner said. “But I know this group of guys wants to leave with even more than that.”

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