NEW CARLISLE — J.T. Brubaker might have snuck up on some people last season when he posted a 5-1 record and a 2.03 ERA for the Tecumseh High School baseball team. Had they known his history, that his dad Frank pitched in the New York Yankees organization and that J.T. had given up basketball to focus exclusively on baseball, Brubaker’s performance wouldn’t have surprised anyone.
This season, for sure, Brubaker is no secret. The senior signed a national letter of intent with the University of Akron in November after impressing scouts at the Bob Ross Classic in July, and in his first start of the season last week, he struck out 11 and allowed no earned runs in seven innings in an 11-1 victory over Northwestern.
The Arrows went 6-1 in Week 1, and they face two big tests in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division this week with games Monday and Tuesday against Kenton Ridge.
“We feel like we should be able to win the CBC,” Brubaker said. “We feel we’re the team to beat, and everybody is wanting to play us and beat us.”
The Arrows had a decent season last year, finishing 14-12 and 9-7 in the CBC, but they haven’t won a CBC title since 2000.
Having an ace like the 6-foot-2 Brubaker, who throws in the mid-80s, on the mound makes Tecumseh a contender.
“J.T. has a lot of upside,” Tecumseh coach Roger Culbertson said. “One of these days, he’s going to fill out those size 14 shoes. He’s worked hard. He’s put a lot more time into baseball, so he deserves what he’s getting right now.”
Brubaker said his dad Frank, also a Tecumseh graduate, taught him everything he knows about pitching. J.T. said his dad doesn’t talk much about his minor league career, but “people who know him and played with him said he could throw the ball.”
J.T. is still learning, but he’s improving every year. That has a lot to do with the long-toss program Culbertson put together for him during the offseason and the time he spent working out with his summer team, the Miami Valley Wolverines, at Richie Moody Baseball in Centerville.
“I need to learn to locate my changeup more and develop a cutter,” Brubaker said. “The curveball has been working well, and the two-seam has been moving a lot.”
The Arrows will need more than Brubaker to win the Kenton Trail Division, and they had plenty of contributors in the first week of the season.
Gabe Winans-Berner, Brandon VanHoose and Jake Nicewaner also picked up victories on the mound. The Arrows hit .423 as a team. Winans-Berner led the way with a scorching start, hitting .714 (10-of-14).
“This is the deepest we’ve ever been, hitting and pitching,” Culbertson said. “We’ve got a good attitude, a good group of kids.”
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