|Catcher Brandon Davis, 19, and his brother Jordan, 16, a second baseman, have been key players on Norwood’s American Legion Post 70 team. (Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe)|
The brother factor
Davises inspire each other, team
Brandon Davis has been playing baseball as long as he can remember - in fact, his first word was “ball.’’ His younger brother, Jordan, recalls playing ball with their father in the backyard from the time he could walk.
This summer, the Davis brothers have been key cogs for Norwood’s American Legion Post 70 baseball team that captured first place in the West Division of Zone 6.
“I’ve had the most fun ever playing baseball with the Legion team this season,’’ said Brandon, entering his sophomore year at Bridgewater State College.
This is the first and last year that he will play on the same team as his brother. “It’s weird playing with him,’’ Brandon said. “We’ve never been in the same league for baseball because of our ages.’’
Brandon, at 19, is a veteran on the team; Jordan, entering his junior year at Norwood High, is the Legion squad’s youngest player at 16.
“Playing with him is not what I expected,’’ said the elder Davis. “I didn’t expect him to be playing the role he’s playing.’’
As the starting second baseman, Jordan is hitting a robust .458, the third-best average on the team.
“I tell everyone Jordan’s one of my favorite players,’’ said fleet-footed outfielder Sean Keady, a .491 hitter who is coming off a strong freshman year at Bentley (.280 average in 40 starts).
“He’s definitely one you want to take under your wing.’’
Third baseman Tyler Gover, who plays hockey and baseball with the younger Davis at Norwood High, calls Jordan “a very good athlete overall. He makes you want to play better.’’
Jordan thinks it’s “cool’’ to be in the same lineup as his brother.
“I look up to him,’’ he said. “I’ve been going to his games my whole life. It’s pretty cool being on the same team as him. Going to his games has inspired me to play.’’
Brandon has served as an inspiration for the entire team. He has undergone two surgeries on his hip, but he never quit baseball. After a complete right hip reconstruction as a sophomore, he was forced to stop playing catcher.
“I kept playing as a fielder and a pitcher after the surgeries,’’ he said. “Catching took too much wear and tear on my hips.’’ This season however, three years after his surgery, he has stepped behind the plate for his team.
“I thought I would step up and catch,’’ he said. “I wanted to make room for other players to play in the field.’’
He has not experienced any pain, which has allowed him to catch full time.
Shortstop John Gorman, who has played with the elder Davis since Little League, lauded his ability as a leader. “Stepping up to catch, he’s concerned about the team and not himself. You want to play with guys like that,’’ said Gorman, the state’s 2011 Player of the Year at Catholic Memorial who will play at Boston College.
Norwood coach Paul Samargedlis noted that Davis had not crouched behind the plate in three to four years. “To have him catch - and catch effectively - has been great,’’ he said.
Samargedlis knew that the Davises were good players, “but they’re playing better than I thought.’’
At one point this season, it seemed like one or the other was hitting a home run every night.
Brandon connected against Foxborough on July 1. Jordan belted a grand slam in the next game against Canton on July 5. The following night, Brandon went deep against Westwood.
Jordan said that he prefers to be playing with older guys because it gives him motivation to play at a higher competition level.
“Because I’m younger there’s more pressure for me to step up, but I like it,’’ he said.
Post 70 itself stepped up after an 18-1 drubbing by rival Walpole.
Samargedlis said that losing that first game taught his squad how to handle adversity.
“When you win all the time, it makes it harder to lose,’’ he said. “When we lost the way we did to Walpole, it gave the guys something to work on. For the next games after that we played strong.’’
Norwood (16-4) moved on, racking up 55 runs in the next five games.
“Walpole is good in every sport they play, the games always have big crowds,’’ said Jordan Davis.
“We weren’t that worried about the first loss,’’ said his brother. “It was our first game together and we know we have good players.’’
Since the first Walpole game, Brandon Davis said, the team has taken a more relaxed approach. “We played nervous against Walpole,’’ he said. “After that we were more relaxed in the field and at the plate, which has helped.’’
A turning point came in the rematch. “At one point in the game we were down 7-1; we ended up coming back and beat them 8-7,’’ he said.
Norwood won nine of 10 after the Walpole loss, the only defeat to Norfolk.
“Since the Walpole game, we’ve caught fire and haven’t looked back,’’ said Gorman (team-leading .595 average), who was picked by the
Beating Walpole in the rematch was a boost of confidence, according to Brandon Davis. “We came back from such a huge deficit against Walpole and now we’re at the top in our league,’’ he said. In the first game of the Zone 6 playoffs, Norwood crushed Milton 14-1, scoring six runs in the first inning, before losing the second game Thursday night, 5-3. The deciding game of the series was scheduled for Friday night.
The Davis brothers are aiming for a long playoff run.
“Knowing that each of us is there, it pushes us more,’’ said Brandon.
Colleen Casey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.