VILLA PARK – Summer baseball isn’t about winning, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at Montini faces on Tuesday.
After last season’s run in the summer state tournament, the Broncos know they missed an opportunity in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal loss to Willowbrook. The 8-2 defeat ended hope of re-creating last year’s fifth-place finish in the state.
Still, summer ball is about development and teaching. Montini, like every other team in the summer, wasn’t at full strength throughout the season, and younger players got to step into those temporary vacancies.
“We got a lot of young guys coming, and we’re missing some guys because a lot of other guys got stuff going on with basketball, football and travel baseball,” Montini coach Eric Scott said.
“We get to see a lot of the younger kids play to see what they can do for the next season. Next year we’re going to be pretty senior dominant. We know what those guys can do, but seeing some of the younger guys playing is a big positive.”
Some of the seniors expected to lead Montini next spring are Tyler Tumpane, who was away while working out with the football team, Austin Kline, Eddie Bava and Jake Mencacci. Even as far as seniors go, Mencacci was a breakout player during the summer.
During the spring, Mencacci was behind seniors at first base and catcher, but looks to be a crucial part of the lineup next spring.
“You’ve got to step into a leadership role for the younger guys,” he said. “Some of the guys came to me for advice, and I thought that was really cool.”
Most notable senior baseball players are playing travel ball with the hope of facing better competition and being seen by college scouts.
“I use the summer to get better for the spring season, and I enjoy it for the travel season as well to show my skills for the scouts to maybe play at the next level,” Bava said.