Nick Brueser essentially repeated his super sophomore year.
So the Hamilton junior is the Tribune baseball player of the year for consecutive seasons.
This time around, though, his impact helped the Huskies to the Division I title as the slugging first baseman had 25 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs in 34 games.
“Last year I was focused on the results, home runs, RBIs or whatever,” he said. “This year it was about hitting the ball hard every time. It’s something that Steve Springer (a Toronto scout and mental coach) talks about – there is a hastag #HitTheBallHardYouWin because a good at bat and hard hit ball could be an out. So do the only thing you can control – hit the ball hard.”
Brueser, a Stanford commit, did just that this year as he hit .442 with 32 runs, 13 doubles, three triples and nine home runs.
It was enough to be named Gatorade’s Arizona Player of the Year, but what he will remember the most, of course, was winning the state title.
“Cody Bellinger had the biggest hit,” he said of the playoff game-winner by Bellinger for a 11-10 win after trailing 10-1. “After that we won that one with the great comeback we knew it was our year.”
So far every year has been Brueser’s year with one year left in his time in a Hamilton uniform.
“We will have a target on our back,” he said. “We really didn’t have that (in 2016), but as long as we keep hitting the ball hard we will be OK.”
Pos. Player School
C Isaiah Garcia Campo Verde
1B Nick Brueser Hamilton
2B Tommy Sacco Perry
3B Gage Workman Basha
SS Drew Swift Hamilton
OF Ryan Novis Corona del Sol
OF Carson Cole Highland
OF Chase Edwards Horizon Honors
DH Cooper Williams Campo Verde
U Boyd Vanderkooi Skyline
P Zane Strand Hamilton
P Jack Schneider Basha
Player of the Year: Nick Brueser, Hamilton
Coach of the Year: Damien Tippett, Perry: Tippett took over the program late after Shane Hilstrom stepped down due to health reasons. The Pumas went on to win 24 games and earn the second seed in the state tournament before being knocked out with six teams remaining.
Pos. Player School
C Prescott Horn Apache Junction
1B Connor McCord Corona del Sol
2B Ian McIntyre Apache Junction
3B Jonny Weaver Mountain Pointe
SS Nicholas Leach Marcos de Niza
OF Danny Gorman McClintock
OF Zack Meyer Gilbert
OF Jack Smith Mountain Pointe
DH Casey Legumina Basha
U Trevor Hauver Perry
P Ian Sanger Basha
P Aaron Makil Westwood
Brian Ranft, Apache Junction; Michael Perza, Basha; Hayden Udall, Campo Verde; Colt Chance, Combs; Jacob Clemens, Corona del Sol; Daniel Sotelo, Corona del Sol; Jake Jernegan, Desert Ridge; Nick Labella, Desert Ridge; Andre Ramos, Desert Vista; Cole Bellinger, Hamilton; Brayden Merritt, Hamilton; Andrew Snow, Highland; Brice Johnson, Higley; Connor Sorrells, Horizon Honors; Jack Pochiro, Gilbert; Conner Woods, Marcos de Niza; Cody Holtz, Perry; Tayt Smith, Perry; Keegan Vercoe, Poston Butte; Jesse Schmidt, Queen Creek; Jacob Stobart, Red Mountain; Blake Newman, Seton Catholic; Joe Swingle, Tempe Prep; Etahn DeWitt, Valley Christian.