The Vassar College Brewers Men’s Baseball team has started off their season this year hard and fast.
As of now, they’ve already had over 20 games and currently stand with a record of 10-11-1 overall and 6-8-0 in Liberty League play.
But this year’s team, with a strong crop of freshman talent and lead by a series of strong underclassmen as well as upperclassmen, has incredible potential.
Senior Captain Zander Mrlik believes that this year’s team is the strongest he’s seen and is confident that their athleticism will be able to propel the team forward as the season progresses.
“This is the best baseball team in the past four years. We have the ability to compete with anyone in our league and have yet to reach our full potential. We’re in a solid place to make the playoffs and to become a force to be reckoned with,” he said.
Mrlik, along with fellow Senior Captain Mike Perrone, Lawrence Flicker, Sean Morash, Max Frankel, and A.J. Kim round out this year’s strong Senior class.
Mrlik has been pleased with they way in which his team’s been interacting with one another, particularly how the seniors have really taken to their new positions on the team.
“It’s impressive how certain players have stepped up and taken leadership roles,” he wrote.
“Sean Morash, Mike Perrone, and Brett Zaziski have been key performers for us and have helped carry our offensive load. Joe Lovizio and Johnny Mrlik have been two of our best pitchers and have really helped lead our pitching staff. Sean and Mike in particular have really proved themselves as leaders as well this year,” he continued.
Not only are the upperclassmen and the other returners impact players this year, but in fact, this year has arguably brought in one of the strongest crop of Freshman recruits the Brewers have ever had.
Mrlik has been ecstatic with their play so far and feels that they have the potential to really transform the team and the program.
“Our underclassmen are extremely talented and have the potential to make this program special for the next few years.”
“It’s a tough transition from high school to college but they continue to get better and they’ve already had impact roles on the team and more guys will continue to positively contribute to the team,” he continued, noting the difficulties some freshman experience when joining a collegiate team.
One of the team’s strengths is their ability to function as a unit off the field. Mrilk cites team dynamic as one of the most successful aspect of the Brewers’ program.
“We’re all very good friends. It really helps the team in general. We’ve had some senior really step up into leadership roles as well as other members of the team which has been good for us and we’re really starting to gel as a team in the middle of a playoffs race right now,” Melik wrote.
As is typical of the end of a season, those playoff races against Liberty League opponents are forefront in the team’s mind.
Playing in the Liberty League, the Brewers face a tough conference schedule all season long.
Despite this, the team is looking to hopefully making the postseason. That remains their main goal for the year.
“We want to make playoffs,” Mrlik wrote. “We never have and in my last collegiate season that would be my only goal: to help us make the playoffs,” he continued.
Despite a tough conference as well as overall schedule, Mrilk is still optimistic about the Brewers chances this year.
“We have great coaches and we’re hoping with this talent we can somehow gel as a group and win the close games which will carry us through the playoffs. I really think this is the year we get over that hump and make the playoffs,” he said.
A large part of why Mrlik is so optimistic about is team’s chances is because he feels they’re still continuing to get better and better with each practice.
“What’s exciting is that our offense and our pitching has carried us [during separate games] but we have yet to have both of them ‘on’ at the same time. When…as a team both offense and pitching [are] on the same page, we can be a very dangerous team,” he said.
Though the team has had some uneven games with a divide between pitching and offense, they’ve done remarkably well.
They’ve managed to pull out some big wins against tough teams like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and St. Lawrence University, and do well in close games. One such game was against Clarkson, whom the Brewers defeated 2-1 in Mrlik’s favorite game of the year.
“[Senior] Dave Robbins hit the game winning walk-off single for a 2-1 win. It was a really exciting game,” Mrlik wrote, recalling his fond memory of the game.
Another strong moment for the team came from Captain Perrone.
Mrlik was more excited than ever when Perrone stole home in a game against RPI.
“My favorite moment of the year was when Mike Perrone stole home,” he stated.
“It really showed his incredible athleticism and it was just really exciting to watch,” he continued.
With more and more big momentws like that the Brewers will hopefully continue to win. Mrlik has this advice for his team in the race for the playoffs.
“It’s all about pulling through and winning the close games which we’ve had trouble with in the past. It’s about mental fortitude if you’re going to make the playoffs. And I really think that this is the year,” he concluded.