North Salem-Brewster baseball team clinches Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League championship


Photo by Renee Dillon

In the beginning, there were 86 teams. Preteen boys from towns as far away as Norwalk, Stamford, Newburgh and White Plains who, along with their families, committed their summer to highly competitive travel baseball. By the end, just two teams remained: Yorktown and Brewster. And after a fiercely competitive game played at Rogers Park in Danbury, the 10U Brewster Crush boys baseball team was crowned champions of the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League Boys 10U division.

“The secret to the team’s success, as corny as it may sound, is love. There are tons of hardworking teams and knowledgeable coaches out there, but when you truly love your players, they know it, and they will be willing to push themselves to higher limits for you and the team, because they know you will do the same,” said Mike Subin, head coach of the 10U Brewster Crush. “I want everything for my players in life that I do for my own sons, but I am also not willing to hand it out.”

Photo by Renee Dillon

Subin shared that the Crush’s 13 players, a mix of boys from North Salem and Brewster, have been playing together for the past three years, since they formed as an 8U team. The boys practice and play throughout the year, including once weekly winter workouts, off-field, CrossFit-style training, and a rigorous spring season that includes twice-weekly practices plus games leading up to the highly anticipated and highly competitive summer season.

“After last summer they were calling each other checking to make sure they did their 10 pushups a day,” said Bret Puchir of Croton Falls, whose rising sixth grader, Parker, pitches and plays third base for the team. “For a while it was the parents doing the nudging, but by the time they were halfway through 9U they were handling their own situation.”

Photo by Renee Dillon

“I always knew this team could and would win a championship, if not several, since this group started in 2021,” Subin said. “ I have coached some terrific teams and this team has an ‘x-factor' to them. It’s a great group of players, coaches and families all pulling in the same direction. No politics, no complaining, just grind and work.”

The team has also benefited from having several local business chip in as supporting sponsors. North Salem businesses Frank's Pizzeria, The Creek, and Hardscrabble Cider are all proud supporters of the team, helping to offset equipment costs and tournament fees. 

Photo by Renee Dillon

The championship game required the boys to put everything they had learned over the past several months to the test–the skills, the teamwork, the grit and the trust, in their coach and in one another. Prior to the championship, the team had played–and lost to–opponent and respected rival Yorktown several times. If they had any hope of beating the 14-1 Yorktown in this, the most important game of all, every player had to play his heart out.

“We knew what we were going up against,” said Puchir. “These guys are the best of the best.”

In just over an hour, fates were decided. Both teams had put their best pitchers on the mound, helping to keep the scores low. Brewster scored their two runs early in the game. Late in the game, Yorktown came back, putting one run on the board. “We just had to hold them off,” Puchir said. The last out was a ground ball hit to the Crush first baseman. “He made the play, and it was history after that. We really wanted it,” Puchir said.

Coach Subin acknowledged that the team had experienced its share of setbacks on the road to the title. “But this team stayed steady and kept the faith. We believed in each other, the kids believed in their coaches and themselves.”

Photo by Renee Dillon

For Subin, who has previously coached teams in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League tournaments and championships, the win was particularly poignant. Fourteen days before the championship, Subin’s dad, who was one of the team’s biggest fans, died tragically in a car accident. While the elder Subin wasn’t physically at the game, his son felt his presence throughout. “He was there with me and the boys,” Subin said. “This one will hold a special place in my heart as the backdrop was very emotional personally.

Subin stressed that the life lessons that he and assistant coaches Alex Mazzotta and Felipe Irizarry strive to impart on the boys are really what it’s all about. “The Brewster Crush’s mission from day one has never been solely about baseball, but baseball as the vehicle to teach real world lessons, disciplines and characteristics through what we believe is the greatest sport on the face of the earth. To see the elation from young men accomplishing something they set their mind to and commit to fulfilling is infinitely fulfilling,” Subin said.

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