For Buena's Brady, a welcome respite

Buena's Denny Brady last pitched in the South Jersey Group 2 final, a taut, 1-0 win.
Buena's Denny Brady last pitched in the South Jersey Group 2 final, a taut, 1-0 win. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 07, 2014

Denny Brady needed a rest after what he called the most "nerve-racking" game of his life.

Seven days sounded about right.

Brady, a junior righthander with a 9-0 record and a 0.39 ERA, will take the mound as Buena (21-5) seeks its first state championship in the Group 2 title game against Bernards (25-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Toms River East.

Buena and Mainland, which will face Mt. Olive for the Group 3 crown at 2 p.m. Saturday at Toms River South, will attempt to become the first public schools from the Cape-Atlantic League to win a baseball title since the creation of the state tournament in 1971.

"This is a moment I might only get to live once in my lifetime," Brady said before the Chiefs practiced Thursday. "I know I have to cherish every moment. Before I know it, it will be five years from now, and I'll be like: 'That went fast.' "

Brady pitched a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Barnegat in the South Jersey Group 2 final on May 30.

Brady and Barnegat sophomore lefthander Jason Groome, who struck out 17 and also allowed just two hits, were locked in a taut pitching duel in a fast-paced, high-pressure game with the sectional championship on the line.

"I never get nervous, and I was nervous in that game," Brady said. "It was the most nerve-racking game of my life. It felt like every single pitch was important.

"When we got the last out, I felt like I was going to pass out. I was so tired."

Buena beat Robbinsville, 7-2, in the state semifinals on Tuesday behind pitchers Matt Colon and Andrew Cartier. Brady hit a two-run home run in that game, but hasn't taken the mound since the victory over Barnegat.

"Some people say, 'Oh, he might have too much rest,' " Buena coach Harry Grose said. "He [Brady] loves it. He loves pitching in these situations."

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Brady, who has committed to East Carolina, was one of South Jersey's top freshmen in 2012, as Buena made the Group 2 state finals but lost to Mahwah.

Brady was hampered in 2013 by a sore right shoulder. He said he pitched in five or six games, but was limited to around three innings an outing.

"We thought I might have a torn labrum, but I really had just strained a muscle lifting [weights]," Brady said. "I saw a trainer in the summer, and he taught me how to stretch, and I felt like I was never hurt."

After a strong summer and fall with Gallagher Team Mizuno, a travel team outside of Trenton, Brady has developed into one of South Jersey's most dominant pitchers as a junior. He has 95 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Brady struck out 18 in winning a pitcher's duel with Lower Cape May's Josh Pennington. He threw a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts against Ocean City.

Brady has a live fastball that usually gets to 87 or 88 m.p.h. He has good command of his slider and change-up, plus a sense of how to work hitters.

"He's got a baseball mind," Grose said. "He's a student of the game, and he hates to lose at anything. He's ultracompetitive."

Brady said he will "cherish" the opportunity to take the mound with history on the line for Buena and the Cape-Atlantic.

"Ever since I was little, I always wanted to pitch in big games," Brady said. "This is such a great opportunity for all of us. We want to take advantage of this."



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