NEW BRITAIN - New Britain American Legion baseball head coach Mark Bernacki knew this season was going to be different than in years past. It’s also why the team’s 0-2 start hasn’t come as a shock.
“A lot of our players just don’t have much varsity baseball experience,” Bernacki said. “Because of that, we know this is a bit of a learning season for our program.”
That inexperience has resulted in two different style games.
The team put up a fight in its 2-1 loss to Berlin in the season opener. But a 20-1 loss at home against Tri-County Monday night showed the youth on New Britain’s squad.
At the same time, Bernacki saw the 19-run loss as an opportunity to switch things up and see what his players are capable of.
“Sometimes, you just have to admit ‘hey, they’re beating us quite badly. This is an awful situation,’” Bernacki said. “But I’m proud of our guys. They didn’t quit. We got a chance to play kids at positions they wouldn’t normally play at also. So it looks bad right now, but it’s only our second game of the season. We’ll take this one and keep moving forward.”
New Britain has just three 19-year-old players on its roster, one of which is catcher and shortstop Miguel Sanchez, who is in his third year with the team. Sanchez puts added pressure on himself to serve as a mentor for the other players.
“For me, being a vet, every game I go out there, I like to show my experience to my younger teammates,” Sanchez said. “I go out there and just try to do what I’ve been doing the last three years to show my teammates what it’s like. For me, it’s working with my younger teammates so they can get better as the season goes along.”
Despite the struggles early on, Bernacki is content with the way his team is playing together, especially since New Britain has players from five different schools.
“It’s definitely unique and that’s a lot of different schools these kids are coming from,” Bernacki said. “But they’re all New Britain guys. They’ve all crossed paths at some point in their careers. Usually it is during the summer time. We haven’t had any friction on the team so far so I’m really expecting a nice cohesive unit this year.”
In all, Bernacki knows it could be a tough season in terms of results, but is still excited about the mentality his team has.
“It’s really fun for me to watch a bunch of guys who don’t give up, don’t get down and they come to the baseball field with a smile on their faces,” Bernacki said.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org