Conrad keeping Brandywine baseball team loose

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mark Conrad helps keep a smile on the face of his Brandywine baseball teammates.

“He keeps us loose,” Bobcats head coach David Sidenbender said of his senior pitcher and third baseman. “He’s just a fun guy to have on the team. He definitely gives us some laughter.”

Conrad considers those guys on the field with him as more than teammates.

“They’re my family,” Conrad said. “This family plays together and we play hard. That’s why I like playing with them.”

Conrad fielded questions after a doubleheader sweep of New Buffalo Monday, May 23 (6-3 and 12-2 in five innings) while his band of brothers tried to distract him with their antics.

Which one is Conrad?

He’s not hard to spot. He wears No. 18 and he’s got the flowing darks locks and an extra helping of eye black.

“He’s very solid on the mound,” Sidenbender said. “He throws strikes.”

The right-hander went 5 2/3 innings with three runs and seven hits allowed to go with six strikeouts and two walks in a 6-3 win against New Buffalo. Before that, he was 4-5 with a 0.95 ERA.

“We lost some really close games against some really good teams,” Sidenbender said. “He’s pitched really great.”

Against the Bison, he consistently worked up in the strike zone.

“He did a pretty good job at that,” Sidenbender. “When he needed to get the ball down, he did. He hadn’t pitched since last Tuesday so he needed to get some work in today.”

The one mistake Conrad made was on a 0-2 pitch to New Buffalo left-handed No. 5 hitter Travis Maddux.

“I tried to throw it inside to his feet and it didn’t go there,” Conrad said of a ball Maddux rapped over the right field fence for a two-run home run.

Conrad, who did some varsity pitching for Brandywine as a sophomore and junior (including a win against a solid Homer team), has been the Bobcats’ No. 2 starter and a consistent offensive contributor — he had a two-run single in Game 2 against New Buffalo.

“They threw a lot of first-pitch, right-down-the-middle strikes and we capitalized,” Conrad said.

Brandywine consistently put the ball in play against the Bison, racking up 15 hits in 10 innings with only two strikeouts.

Sidenbender said his team had improved at the plate since recent back-to-back losses to Parchment (2-1 and 1-0) before busting out against the same team (9-3) at the Kalamazoo Hackett Invitational.

Conrad also plays a sure-handed, strong-armed third base for the Bobcats.

“We call him the ‘White Blur,’ Sidenbender said of a young man he also coaches in tennis. “He’s a lot more athletic and quick than you think.”