Bernstein's sweet swing produces base hits
Brendan Bernstein possesses a sweet swing at the plate.
"It was a lot of fun and I tried to do my job at my position and get the guys in," Bernstein said. "I tried to be a good role model on the field and do what I could to help the team win."
One problem Bernstein has had is a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which he's rehabbed during the summer.
He hopes the healing process is successful and he can make Duke's team as a walk-on.
"It will be a ton of work and I need to get my body in the right state," Bernstein said. "If I can do it and work hard, there's a chance I can make the team."
Bernstein hit .350 for Staples and helped the team win its third FCIAC title in four years.
"My consistent ability to hit line drives and use the whole field, helped," Bernstein said.
Playing for the Wreckers regularly as a sophomore is a tall task because they have a talented program with a winning tradition. Nevertheless, Bernstein became Staples' starting left fielder sophomore year and credits his past and present coaches for his success. His hard work in the offseason also made a difference.
"Brendan was an elite player for us and played at a high level," Wreckers Coach Jack McFarland said. "He's a very mature kid and we rarely had to make corrections for him. He's a real pro and a great left fielder."
Bernstein had an occasional spurt of power. He had six doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs.
"I've never focused on hitting for power," Bernstein said. "It was taught to me that my power would come naturally and my line drives would turn into hits. As I got bigger, my line drives turned into extra base hits."
When Bernstein hits, he's selective, which enabled him to draw 10 walks.
"I'm aggressive at the plate but I like to wait for my pitch," Bernstein said. "When I get it, I swing hard for it."
Growing up, Bernstein always played at second base.
"I pride myself on my quick hands," Bernstein said. "I guess I was blessed with it and I practiced fielding ground balls a lot."
With Staples being entrenched at second base when Bernstein moved up to varsity, he switched to left field. He learned his new position through repetition and was consistent in the outfield.
"I always liked tracking the ball in the outfield," Bernstein said. "At first, it was difficult because Staples has a terrible sun in left field but it wasn't too bad and I got used to it and enjoyed it."
His layoff from baseball is hard but in the long run, necessary. Bernstein recently began swinging a bat.
"I missed it," Bernstein said. "I played it my whole life and I never had as long of a break. My body needed a break."
Life on the diamond for him began at age 5. Bernstein began playing baseball because his father Doug played it in high school.
"I always loved baseball and I was brought up to play it," Bernstein said.
And Bernstein has had many victories on the diamond. He was on the 10-year-old National League Little League All-Star team that won the state title in 2003 and he won an FCIAC title in 2009. He especially likes this year's title because he did it as a senior captain.
Staples had many qualified seniors who could have led the team but Bernstein and three of his classmates were seen to be a cut above the rest. He mostly led by example through his work ethic.
"I loved being captain," Bernstein said. "I like my fellow captains and it was a great group of kids and it was nice winning the FCIAC championship with them."
McFarland said, "Brendan was a great leader. If you are a young player, you learned a lot from him."
Bernstein was also named the Wreckers' Scholar-Athlete, which is not an easy award to win on a strong academic team.
"I was really honored and it was nice to be honored for my academic work as well as my athletics," Bernstein said.
At Duke, he will major in economics. If Bernstein makes the team, he won't be able to see the Blue Devils basketball team as much as he'd like, but said he is willing to make the sacrifice.
"Brendan can hit high-level pitchers," McFarland said. "He's our No. 3 hitter, our best hitter and he could hit anyone."
Bernstein said, "If I hit the outstanding pitching and have a good tryout, I'll be OK. I need to show what I can do."