NEW CASTLE —
It was a simple single up the middle.
The same type of hit, in fact, that Wilmington High’s Ryan Brumbaugh has made hundreds of times during batting practice and games in his baseball career.
What Brumbaugh didn’t realize was how special this one was.
“I kind of kept it from him, because I didn’t want to put any extra pressure on him. He puts enough on himself,” Greyhounds coach Garett Malinak said. “He’s hit in the middle of our lineup since he was a freshman, and every time up he expects to drive guys in and do good things. I didn’t want to tell him until after he did it.”
It comes as no surprise that the unsuspecting Brumbaugh found it a bit odd that his head coach stopped the play to grab the ball for his senior leader.
“I was the first base coach and he came over and kind of looked at me weird like what’s going on? I whispered to him that it was his 100th RBI,” Malinak said. “I was very proud for him. I know his family was really excited.”
The first-inning RBI single was one of many for Wilmington in a 13-1 rout at Jamestown. It was something that would have gotten overlooked in the box score by Brumbaugh, who wasn’t exactly keeping track of his numbers.
“I had no idea how many RBIs I had. I just got my hit in Jamestown and my coach stopped the game, grabbed me the ball and told me congratulations, that was my 100th RBI. I was surprised.”
Brumbaugh reached the mark in just his 65th high school game. He drove in 30 RBIs in his freshman and junior seasons and 24 as a sophomore. He had 17 entering the week this year.
“That’s just such an amazing accomplishment, especially doing it in 65 games,” Malinak said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that in the high school level. That’s spectacular. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Reaching the 100-RBI plateau isn’t the only thing the Greyhounds’ new Century Man has going for him. Brumbaugh has been swinging a particularly hot bat as of late — going 15 for his last 20 from the plate heading into the week. It’s a effort that has earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“He’s on an incredible streak. It’s almost like slo-pitch old-man softball league stuff,” Malinak said. “It’s just been absolutely amazing what he’s been able to do the last three weeks or so in getting on a tear and staying on it, constantly hitting the ball hard. He’s worked so hard, he deserves everything he gets accomplishment-wise. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Hard work and success seem to come naturally if you’re a Brumbaugh. Ryan’s brother and sophomore teammate Travis is a standout pitcher on the squad who came into the week with a 3-1 record. Younger sisters Lexi and Rikki are star track and field athletes for the Lady Greyhounds.
It also helps to have a dad, Rick, who is willing to grab the old mitt for a game of catch.
“Any time I ask my dad, he’ll have my brother and me down at the field and we’ll be taking batting practice. He’s down there any day I ask,” Brumbaugh said. “My dad’s always taught me to work hard and I’ve worked hard, but there’s always room for me to improve.”
Despite the obvious assumption that Ryan and his brother frequently go after each other in pitcher-batter showdowns during practice, Brumbaugh says that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although he jokingly said he’d be worried that he would “line drive” him, Ryan’s more content on driving his brother in on the basepaths. That’s something that made his 100th RBI all the more memorable. It was Travis who scored the run.
“It’s really special having him on the team, especially this year since it’s my last year of high school ball. I mean I played with him in high school basketball, but it’s also special he was my 100th RBI.”
Brumbaugh features power potential to all fields. More of a line-drive hitter, it’s his keen eye for the strike zone that has allowed Brumbaugh to be a feared man from the middle of the batting order. For the season, he leads the team in walks and had just one strikeout to his name.
“I think just making contact with the ball is the biggest thing. Especially in high school, you got to make them make the plays. Chances are, they’re going to make mistakes.”
Being the team’s best hitter isn’t the only thing Brumbaugh has on his plate. He’s an excellent leader and mentor for a Wilmington team on the verge of the playoffs.
“That’s the special thing about Ryan. It’s really tough to pitch to him,” Malinak added. “He only has one strikeout on the year, so he connects with the ball all the time. It seems like it’s hard contact all the time. He has a lot of power, but it’s line drive power. If we would have had a fence at Wilmington here for his four years, he’d probably have about 10 more home runs. He hits the ball to all fields with power.”
“I said this before, I’m pretty spoiled with some of the kids I have here. Ryan’s one of the first guys at practice and always one of the last guys to leave. His leadership has been outstanding this year. For four years, he’s just come through in any situation we needed him to. He’s the kind of kid the other coaches, they tell me, play around Ryan on defense for them. He’s the guy they don’t want to beat them, especially now being four years in the league, everyone knows how he hits and how tough a player he actually is.”
NEW CASTLE —
It was a simple single up the middle.
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