Kyle Garrick remembers his first varsity baseball game as a Berkeley Stag like it happened last week.
He remembers his first hit, “I doubled with the bases loaded against Fort Dorchester,” which came in his second varsity at bat as an eighth grader.
“My first at bat I was supposed to lay down a sac bunt and I popped out to the pitcher and Coach Cox went off.”
The next trip to the plate, he delivered and Garrick remembers the pitch too.
“Fastball middle in and I’m able to turn on it and hit it on the screws,” he said. “Line drive in the gap.”
If asked Garrick could cite specific plays from the more than 100 baseball games in which he’s played at BHS, and not just the play, but the situation, what he was thinking and the result.
He is all the dirt and grime that makes up a baseball player.
He is a junior Pete Rose and put the hustle in Charlie Hustle.
Garrick’s favorite game (so far) was the second game in the District VII championship two years ago against Cane Bay when the Stags came in needing to win two against a Cobra team that had beaten them four times previously and celebrated a region championship on their infield.
“I think we made a statement in that game,” Garrick said. “They held out Zach Wimmer for game two thinking they could beat us with their other guy, but we climbed all over him for five runs in the first inning and in the second game we didn’t let Wimmer beat us.”
Garrick said the game was classic Berkeley baseball.
“Sterling Fiddie came in and threw lights out and he was just a sophomore and hadn’t pitched much. He shut them out and shut them down.”
Talking baseball with Kyle Garrick is like trying to catch lightning in a Mason jar. He is all over the map and he is a fast talker.
He’s dialed in.
From the skinny eighth grader who couldn’t yet drive to practice to the tall, lean senior sporting a wild tattoo on his forearm, Kyle Garrick is all country hardball. Playing Berkeley Stags baseball has been his life and he knows no other way to play than “The Berkeley Way.” He has literally grown up wearing Berkeley blue.
“I’ve had two baseball coaches in my life,” he said. “My dad (L.M. Garrick) and Coach Cox. “I don’t know any other way of playing baseball than how we play at Berkeley. The next team I play for I don’t know what I’m going to do if we don’t go all out in practice like we do here.”
That next team is Florence Darlington Tech, a program that has been a stepping stone for former Stag baseball players from which to launch their collegiate careers. Garrick committed to playing there in April.
Kyle’s baseball philosophy echoes that of his coach: You play like you practice and you practice like you play. There is no difference between the two.
“From that moment when we put on our cleats we know it’s game time... B.P. or ball game, we go all out. We focus all on baseball.”
Landy Cox is known for his intensity in the dugout and on the sidelines, and will joke that he lives and dies with each pitch, but all kidding aside, he is hard on his players because that’s the way he plays - hard.
Garrick thrives on that intensity.
“I use it as motivation. When he gets fired up I get fired up. Every play we go all out. I don’t now how to play any other way.”
Garrick has logged more games behind the plate than any other Stag. He has accounted for more wins between the lines as well.
He’s hitting .400, has thrown out nine of 11 base runners trying to steal, and you can hang a week’s worth of laundry on his throws down to second.
Garrick loves catching, “I’m always in the middle of the game, it’s always right there in front of me... every pitch, every play.”
Garrick’s high school baseball career will end soon and he wants to go out on top. His Stags are playing for a state championship this spring, though the state championship tournament won’t start for another week and Berkeley has to play for the District VIII title first, but that mindset has been there for Garrick since January.
“I want to go out in style,” he said, but quickly added that it’s not just about him, it’s his teammates first and foremost. “It’s the guys I play with. It’s our style. I’d be nothing without them. Coach Cox put that style in my head in eighth grade.
We play one game, one pitch at a time. Every game, every pitch we play all out.”
From the first pitch to the last out, for the last five years, that is the way Kyle Garrick plays baseball, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Playing for Berkeley means everything to me,” he said. “I’ve been laying it on the line from day one... all out. I leave nothing in the tank.”
Spoken like a true baseball player.