BARRINGTON — If you looked into the Barrington baseball team’s dugout this season and thought it seemed a bit overcrowded, it wasn’t your imagination.
Broncos manager Pat Wire keeps 32 players on his active roster — a huge number considering just nine guys are on the field at any given time. It’s a philosophy that seems to be working, given Barrington entered the Class 4A playoffs with a 25-10 record and the top seed in the Crystal Lake South Regional.
“First of all, we wouldn’t have that many guys up here on varsity if we didn’t think they were ready, or deserving,” Wire said. “There may be a limited number of spots in the lineup on any given day, but we want to get guys prepared to play at this level. You never know when a guy will be needed to contribute.”
One such example is senior Richie Stefan, who is 4-1 on the mound this season with victories against standout programs such as New Trier, St. Charles East and Rolling Meadows.
“Richie is a great example of one of those guys who comes through the program and was a borderline varsity player at first,” Wire said. “He didn’t have any varsity pitching experience before this year. And all of the sudden he has wins against those programs, which are among the best in the state. That’s a pretty good resume.”
Stefan was one of many reasons Barrington finished tied for first in the MSL West with an 11-5 record. He’s a huge fan of Wire’s approach, which gives kids the chance to play in a lot of intersquad games or in the second game of weekend doubleheaders.
“I think that being part of a 32-man roster is a great way for guys to find specific roles and help the team in any way they can,” Stefan said. “Part of the reason I think we are successful is because we all contribute. We have a lot of talent on our team and competing with each other helps everyone to become better players.
“Everyone does what they can to get playing time. Junior year I wasn’t necessarily a pitcher but I saw that we might need one in the future. So I worked hard in the offseason to become a starter.”
Jake Petersen, who was given the annual “Kirby Smith Award” (issued to the team’s MVP), echoed Stefan’s sentiments as Barrington heads to the playoffs seeking its first regional title since 2009.
“So far this year we have had a lot of success while playing more games than pretty much anyone,” Petersen said. “Even though we have been struggling as of late, I know that we will rally around each other and turn it around. We know we have a tough stretch ahead [in the playoffs], but as long as we take it one game at a time and focus on going 1-0 each game, it will be tough for teams to stop us. I can promise you that this is going to be a fun run.”