Back in January and February, J.C. Brandmaier was gearing up for his junior season on the Dowling College baseball team and also trying to secure a spot in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
Brandmaier spoke to Westhampton Aviators general manager Henry Bramwell, who was interested in having him on the team but was looking for younger players who could return for a second or third season. Brandmaier, who is going into his senior year at Dowling, is not eligible for another summer season in the HCBL. Eventually Brandmaier made it onto the Aviators and they’re sure glad they took him.
Brandmaier was named Most Valuable Player of the HCBL on August 6, receiving all but two first-place votes. North Fork Osprey Nick Heath (Northwestern State) and Sag Harbor Whaler Jonathon Mulford (Adelphi) were second and third, respectively.
Mulford was named the Pitcher of the Year, receiving five of the seven first-place votes, on Thursday, August 8. North Fork’s David Jesch (Hofstra) and Whaler Jacob Bodner were second and third, respectively, in the voting.
Brandmaier finished the season with a league-leading .382 batting average and tied with three others for the lead in home runs with six. He was also tops in the league in hits with 55 and was tied for second in RBIs with 28.
“Henry just wanted to be sure that I was going to be able to help the team and I was able to do that,” Brandmaier said. “I came off a pretty successful year at Dowling. In the summer, everything was more of a different game. I was facing a lot more Division I pitchers who like to throw more first-pitch fastballs because they tend to throw a little harder. So I was able to hop on fastballs early on in the count and get some base hits.”
Westhampton manager Lou Bernardi said Brandmaier was one of the hardest working players on his team. “Since day one he was an offensive threat for us,” he said. “He was a lead-by-example type of player. He was first on the field and the last one to leave. He truly exemplifies what an MVP should be. He was a total package.”
Mulford, who will be starting his sophomore season at Adelphi, went 6-0 this summer with a league-best 1.69 earned run average. He threw the most innings in the league (51 1/3) and allowed one run or no runs at all in six of his eight starts.
Mulford said he just wanted to continue to improve throughout the summer.
“I came into the year trying to compete for a spot like everyone else,” Mulford said. “I used the same approach I would as if it were a game at my college. I worked out the same like I did over the season.
“I really bonded well with all of the guys on the team,” he added. “Overall it was a good experience.”
Sag Harbor manager Brendan Monaghan recalled Mulford’s second start of the season at North Fork on June 11. He didn’t have his best stuff that game but he battled through it, and that’s what Monaghan will remember most of Mulford.
“He came back in his next start and threw eight innings,” Monaghan said. “He always did better than he did the start before.
“He’s what you look for in a starting pitcher,” he added. “When I gave him the ball I almost didn’t have to worry about things that day. If he wasn’t going to be dominant, he was going to give you a chance to win and go six innings every time you gave him the ball.”
Bodner and Whaler teammate Dan Shea (Monmouth) each received votes for MVP, as did Southampton’s Ben Ruta (Wagner) and Kyle Zech (Stetson). Southampton’s Max Almonte (Villanova), Westhampton’s Preston Brown (Mississippi State) and Sag Harbor’s Reed Bastie (Oklahoma State) all received votes for the Pitcher of the Year award.