This spring will mark the first and the last time the Castagnetti brothers, Andrew and Ben, will play together on the field as teammates on the Walt Whitman High School baseball team.
This special occasion — the only other team they have played on at the high school level came last winter on the Whitman boys basketball squad — has not been lost on the brothers, who have been instrumental in guiding the Vikings (14-3 through Sunday) to the No. 3 seed in this week’s Class 4A West Region tournament.
“It is awesome to play together because we haven’t had the opportunity to play baseball together before,” Ben said. “Although we may get on each other about making mistakes, we both know how to take the constructive criticism and use it to make ourselves better players and teammates. Andrew is a great brother who has always had my back both on and off the field.”
During the regular season, Andrew, a senior third baseman, and Ben, a junior second baseman, combined for a .355 batting average, 37 runs batted in, seven doubles, four triples and 35 runs.
“It is very fun to play with my younger brother on the same team because he is a person who I can trust to help me when I am down or gives me tips to improve my game,” Andrew said. “You don’t always get a chance to play with your brother and best friend on the same team and I have enjoyed every minute of playing with Ben.”
Andrew is a three-year starter for Whitman coach Joe Cassidy, who said his No. 5 hitter “has been able to step into a leadership role this year” and that as a tri-captain, “he has really embraced being a leader on the team.” He has been leading by example as well, batting .346 with five doubles, 16 runs and 19 RBIs, second only to team-leader Drew Aherne (.544, 27 RBIs).
“He seems to be able to rise to the occasion by making the big defensive play, or get the key hit in a game,” Cassidy added.
Younger brother Ben, in his first varsity season, has been a pleasant surprise for Cassidy, batting .362 with four triples, two doubles, 18 RBIs and 19 runs from No. 2 hole in the lineup.
“His offensive numbers on [junior varsity] were not eye catching, but he has done a great job with the bat this year,” Cassidy said. “Instead of asking Ben to bunt two or three times a game, he has just mashed the ball. He is a kid who might go under the radar because he is not flashy, but he makes all the plays a coach would want his middle infielder to make. Both guys are solid defensive kids, who rarely make the physical or mental mistake.”
Their play has helped Whitman overcome the loss of its top two players from a year ago — Michael Flack and Ryan McGill — and fight for the region’s top seed in the final days of the 2013 regular season. The Vikings have had win streaks of seven and six games this spring.
“The team this year could do some damage in playoffs because everyone has the right mindset and everyone has been working really hard to get better every day,” Andrew said. “I am just looking to making a good run in playoffs and finish this season strong with my brother.”