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Brandon Siegenthaler flourishes in dual role for Pascack Hills High School Baseball

Brandon Siegenthaler has been living and breathing the game of baseball since he was very young. Playing on three teams when he was 12 years old, he gives credit to his parents’ for supporting him.

“My mom and dad were taking me to baseball games every day,” said Brandon Sigenthaler. “My Dad would leave work early, pick me up and take me to my games. A game and practice here and there and sometimes playing five games in one day and they never caught a break.”

With an opportunity to attend a parochial high school, Siegenthaler opted to attend Pascack Hills High School in Montvale citing his happiness living in the town and how tight the community was. Besides baseball, Siegenthaler enjoyed playing basketball but ultimately ended up choosing baseball when he started freshman year.

“Basketball is a big running sport and in baseball you have to be more smart,” Siegenthaler said. “I trained at Rockland Peak Performance the past couple of years and they really focus on your body, build and core and not about getting huge biceps for the girls.”

Despite not receiving too much playing time in his first two years, Siegenthaler patiently waited for his opportunity. A very special moment occurred in his sophomore year when he got to play along side his brother who was a senior at the time. “I was pitching and he was the all-start centerfielder and the first out I recorded was a fly ball hit to him and he caught it.”

The big break came during the state tournament when star pitcher Jack Brodsky injured himself rounding the bases. Called upon on an emergency basis Siegenthaler delivered in the semifinal game against Pequannock hurling a complete game shutout while earning the confidence of Head Coach Kevin Kirkby.

Not waiting until his senior year to decide on what college to attend, Siegenthaler began the process after his sophomore year ended in June. “It was very stressful going to showcases/tournaments every weekend, playing every day and showing people what you can do on the field and with recruiting you have to shine,” said Siegenthaler. “When coaches come to see you and you don’t do well they might not come again to see you again. I was e-mailing the coaches about who I am and my accomplishments.”

“I pitched really well, went out to UNC-Asheville and received my first offer. Every Wednesday night I was involved in scrimmages at Breslin Field in Lyndhurst a bunch of times and representatives from Villanova were there to see me. I visited the campus a week or two later and loved it and received an offer. On the ride back home I discussed it with my family and later that night I called the coaches to say I would be a Wildcat.”

“I could have held out for more offers in the recruiting process but didn’t want to pass up on a good education. It’s just not about baseball but getting good grades. There are SAT scores, reaching certain grade and getting tutored three times a week.”

Last season Siegenthaler excelled just on the mound but at the plate as well. Batting .324 with two home runs, 26 RBI’s, 33 hits and 21 runs. The biggest moment of the season occurred in the Bergen County Tournament Championship Game against Don Bosco Prep at Northern Valley Demarest High School where Sigenthaler crushed a two-run home run. Taking over the pitching duties late in the game Siegenthaler worked out of a jam with runners at first and second none out plus striking out the side in the seventh lifting the Cowboys to their first championship win since 1987 and receiving the Evans Award that is for the Most Valuable Player. Pascack Hills would go on to win a league title and Group 2 sectional title becoming the second Bergen County school to achieve the feat of winning the triple crown.

“Playing at Demarest High School is one of my favorite places with everyone up on the hill, huge crowds and feels like you are at a stadium,” Siegenthaler said. “We were up 1-0 and I had one home run all season and still in the four hole and I put my toe on the line and knew I was a good inside hitter my whole life and juts connected on it. The outfielder turned back and saw everyone in the dugout going crazy.”

“Pitching, I knew we had a talented defense up the middle and barely made any errors and best in the county. I just shut the door in the seventh striking out the side. I’m not a cocky guy, more humble and all about the team and playing for the next guy and picking up the team when they are down.”

“We knew we had the talent to do something special, didn’t know we would win the league and go 30-2, ranked number in the state and I believe ranked nationally 35th. The Group 2 championship game against Raritan we didn’t have the bats going, no energy and momentum but in extra innings we step we had to step up our game and close it out.”

Even with everything in place and coming off a successful season heading into senior year, Siegenthaler did not slouch at all during the off-season. “I was in the gym five to six days a week and working out,” said Siegenthaler. “Changed up my eating habits a little bit and in the best shape of my life. I added a slider to my pitching arsenal to along with my fastball, curve ball and change-up. We lost Jack Brodsky and Paul Sullivan from last year but we have Ryan Ramsey and myself starting in the big games. In addition we have Chris Curcio, Mike Rodriguez and Jason Schulman who are very good pitchers and underrated. We have a great catcher in Mark Hernandez who calls great games and keeps people off balance.”

On Ryan Ramsey, “I love the kid and he is phenomenal on the mound and we don’t have to go to the bullpen that much. He stays composed, pounds the zone and makes people swing and his strikeouts are through the roof. I love when he pitches because MLB scouts are at every game, a lefty that throws 90 miles per hour and doesn’t it allow to go to his head.”

Despite being eliminated by St. Joseph (Montvale) in the quarterfinals of the Bergen County Tournament, Pascack Hills has a great shot at not only winning another league title but sectional title with a 21-3 record. Siegenthaler is tearing the cover off the ball again, hitting .375 with four home runs, 31 RBI and 27 runs and hits. On the hill a dominating 5-0 record with a 0.40 ERA, 51 strikeouts and walking just eight in 34.2 innings.

“We pretty much talked about before the season started that last year is in the past and now the seniors have to start their own legacy and show people what we can do,” Siegenthaler said. “We said if we lose a game we’re not going to say what we did last year and instead what we can do this year.”

“Last year we had six juniors who are seniors now and we’re not a team that’s going to hit home runs but play small ball, move guys over and get them in. We work the counts and get guys in. Every day in practice we work on hit and runs, man on second and none out and moving guys over with a ground or fly ball.”

Coach Kirkby and Coach (Joe) Gambardella who is a volunteer coach do a great job of preparing us and cheering us up in the dugout. They took the six seniors out to dinner and told us what we can do. A week before tryouts we went out to dinner again at Pub 101 in Bogota and informed us what our roles would be this season.”

With his educational and athletic career soon coming to an end at Pascack Hills, Siegenthaler is still trying to enjoy the remaining games left and knows in the blink of an eye graduation day will be here in the blink of an eye.

He had this message for kids, school and town of Montvale. “Don’t get caught up in the drama, it’s just not baseball but being with the right friends and playing your game. Don’t get too anxious or stressed out if someone is coming to watch you especially in high school and getting scouted. Stick with one sport, I played both basketball and baseball but decided to choose baseball and worked out for me.”

“All the teachers and administration are congratulating you and giving hugs. The town of Montvale is great and is this where I want to raise my family when I’m older.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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