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High-seeded Bruins swing for rare Playoff run

For the second time in Bruin history, the Varsity Baseball team will host a postseason game at the Bruins’ home field. Photo by Taylor Wohlgemuth

With their League season left in the dust, the Bear River Varsity Baseball team are gearing up for a Playoff run.

The Varsity Bruins ended their season with a overall 13-14 record and a winning 8-7 record in Pioneer Valley League play. With this winning PVL record, the Bruins are slated as the number 2 seed in their Division 5 Playoff bracket, facing the number 7 seeded Western Sierra Wolves (7-5 in league) at home on Thursday, May 16. This is the second postseason game in history to be played at a home field for the Bruins.

As expected, Bruin coaches and players alike are excited about the possibility of a ring-winning season.

Head Coach Eric Van Patten praised his team’s effort in the regular season so far and has hopes that they’ll carry their momentum into the Playoffs.

“I think our guys have everything that they have worked up to up to this point in our season that the postseason should reflect the confidence that I see in them,” Coach Van Patten said. “So the word is ‘confidence.’ I just think that I’m confident they should be confident in their abilities to get the job done.”

Coach Van Patten also commented on the rocky end to the Bruins’ season.

“You know if you look at our stats, we dominated in some very big categories but we still ended up losing,” Coach Van Patten said. “I think far too many games and maybe that last one, that senior game, probably was the one that hurt the most because we should have really taken something like that away.” 

Despite the coach’s thoughts about the team’s record, Senior Team Captain and Shortstop Justin Kilgore thought that the Varsity record was exactly what it should have been.

“I think it’s too soon to say overall if we have accomplished what everyone had in mind because I have my goals for what we should be doing in Playoffs but, up to this point, I think we’ve done exactly what we should have done and exactly what we expected ourselves to do,” Kilgore said. “There were a couple games early on the season that were hard fought and those turned out the way that they were supposed to turn out and everything this season has happened the way it’s supposed to and we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”

Junior Second Baseman Nathan Van Patten agreed with Kilgore’s points, also commenting on the fact that the Playoff game is at the Bruins’ home field.

“I feel like we did what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “We made Playoffs just like we were planning to make Playoffs. We placed the high seed which is what we’re aiming for and got our first home Playoff game ever. So that should be good, home field advantage, so that’s good for us. I think we’ll do good in Playoffs.”

While players like Kilgore and Nathan Van Patten had been playing on the Playoff-bound Varsity team for the entire season, Sophomore Outfielder Colton Jenkins had a different introduction to the team. Jenkins was brought up to the Varsity team in the middle of the season during a rocky week while the Bruins had multiple players out due to injuries and other reasons. Even though Jenkins was pulled from his Junior Varsity team and thrown into the fray of a team that had already created a brotherhood without him, Jenkins made the transition seamlessly and has since been a starting Varsity outfielder.

Getting thrown onto Varsity for the Playoff journey was a good experience for Jenkins. He commented on the team’s goals and aspirations back when he had been first put on the team.

“Yeah, (I’m glad I got pulled up),” he said. “All we wanted to do was get to Playoffs, even if it had to be eighth seed. I think we would have done fine just with being eighth seed versus the first seed, we would beat them. I know we would.”

Nathan Van Patten spoke about how the team’s bond was affecting them going into this Playoff bracket.

“I think, as a team, everyone’s pretty much on the same page right now and I think we’ll communicate and work hard together and have a good outcome,” he said.

Talking about predictions for the upcoming games, Coach Van Patten had high hopes for his team.

“(I feel we stack up) really good in the first round,” he said. “I think we have a shot in the second round, which will test us well. So, if we can win this week, Thursday, and we can pull off a win on Saturday, we’ll be in the driver’s seat and it’ll be ours to control for one more game to the championship and I really hope for the program and for the guys that are playing, that they could be the team that possibly hangs the first section championship banner in (Jack R. McCrory) gymnasium up on the wall. That’d be awesome.”

Coach Van Patten also had a quick word for the fans coming out to support the Bruins in their home Playoff game.

“Just come excited and positive with good thoughts and thank you for being supportive people who support from behind the scenes financially, the parents in particular, who’ve raised great kids,” he said. “… So yeah, love the families, have always appreciated the fans and just hope we have a big turnout, so it could be a good showing for our Playoff game.”

The Bruins play the Western Sierra Wolves in their second ever home Playoff game at 4 p.m., located at the Bear River Varsity field.

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High-seeded Bruins swing for rare Playoff run