Underhill comes home
Brandon Underhill found out the grass isn’t necessary always greener south of the border.
The 20-year-old Niagara Falls native played baseball the last two seasons at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, N.Y. with the hopes of one day attending a Division 1 program.
Underhill had some interest from four-year schools in the States, but ultimately chose to stay close to home and attend Brock where he is majoring in kinesiology.
He said seeing former Brock pitcher Alex Nolan sign last season with the Toronto Blue Jays went a long way in helping him decide to become a Badger.
“What happened last year with Nolan really sparked (me) that you don’t have to go to the States to be seen,” Underhill said. “The stuff they do here really caught my eye. They know what they’re doing so you don’t have to go over there.
“Coming here and having the opportunity where everybody is motivated to win and get better and try and play professional baseball and move on really caught my eye.”
The Badgers were only too happy to welcome Underhill home.
“He was a guy we always kept in touch with,” said Brock assistant coach Jono Marcheterre, who managed Underhill with the Niagara Metros this summer and also taught him at Saint Michael High School. “We made sure the door was open if he didn’t land a Division I opportunity or didn’t get something he wanted down south.”
Marcheterre said it’s more and more common for players to return from the States to attend Brock.
“Our method in recruiting, whether it’s straight out of high school or other transfers, we make sure we try and check certain boxes and hope in the end they decide they want to come to Brock,” he said. “Quite a few of our guys have been in the States or turned down offers from the States because of the quality of education here.”
Underhill, who has aspirations of playing pro, enjoyed his time at NCC.
“Everything over there is so different,” he said. “Here it’s hockey, over there it’s baseball. Seven days a week you’re working out and playing baseball. It’s really a grind on top of school too. It really prepared me mentally to work hard every day and get better. There is always something you can do to get better.”
Underhill has had to adjust to an abbreviated fall season played at the Canadian University level.
“I’ve never been in this league. It’s a short season where over there we had a fall season. We practised all winter and then went into (our) season in the spring where here for that month you really have to stay locked in and get hot and get rolling so you can get ready for the (championship) tournament.”
Underhill has both pitched and played in the field for the Badgers this season. He was a pitcher only for the last two years.
“I love them both,” said Underhill, who has topped out at 87 miles-per-hour on the radar gun. “I went to school in the states to be a pitcher but that was the other thing that caught me here, being able to play both.”
Marcheterre said Underhill can do it all.
“He’s a gamer. It’s something that sticks out in a hurry,” he said. “He can fill any sort of need you have on the field. “He’s started at short and all three outfield positions and it all works around when his turn comes up in the rotation.
“He’s a tremendous athlete. His athleticism is one of the things that allows him to be so versatile. He can adapt to the positions. He’s a ball player. He knows how to make in-swing adjustments to fight off pitches. He’s a tremendously fast runner. He’s a real key for us.”
Underhill is one of a handful of local players on this years team joining Ryan Bench (Fonthill), Matthew Cashburn (St. Catharines) and Ryan Shannon (Niagara Falls).
The Badgers, 6-5, face Genesee Community College and Canisius College in Buffalo this weekend.
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