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Family Affair: Minch Cousins, Tate and Breckin, Are Key Cogs in Redbank Valley’s Dangerous Lineup

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Tate Minich remembers grabbing a bat and some baseballs as a kid and walking to a batting cage his grandmother had built on the family’s sprawling farm near New Bethlehem.

His younger cousin, Breckin Minich, was never far behind.

(Above, cousins Breckin Minich, a freshman, left, and Tate Minich, a junior, talk during a break in the action/photo by Casie Minich)

The two would take swings for hours.

When they weren’t doing that, they’d hit ground balls to each other, or play Wiffle Ball, or play pepper — anything baseball related, the Minichs were usually doing it.

“We’re close,” Tate said. “We worked a whole lot to get where we’re at now.”

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Where they are now is in the PIAA Class 2A playoffs as members of the Redbank Valley baseball team. The Minichs and their Bulldog teammates will take on undefeated District 7 champion Serra Catholic at 4 p.m Monday at Norwin High School in the opening round.

Tate and Breckin are both pillars of the Redbank lineup.

Tate, a junior catcher, is batting .443 with two home runs and a team-leading 28 RBIs. His on-base percentage is a gaudy .521 and he is slugging .639 in the third spot in the order.

Breckin, a third baseman, is batting .340 while batting fifth for the 13-6 Bulldogs.

The freshman has also shown a penchant for coming up with some big hits in pivotal situations this season.

Breckin admitted he was a bit surprised by his uncommon poise. He said he had never really been in too many situations that called for a clutch hit before and wasn’t sure how he’d respond.

Tate, however, was not shocked that Breckin has been cool under pressure.

(Tate Minich/photo by Madison McFarland)

“Breckin has been huge in our lineup,” Tate said. “For a freshman to step up like he has is big. He’s a huge part of our success this season. Just to see him as his older cousin step up as he has this year is really, really special.”

Breckin had never played third base before this season.

There was a need there for Redbank and Breckin was happy to fill it.

“I played a lot of short, so it translated pretty well to third,” Breckin said. “It was a pretty smooth adjustment.”

Tate was also amazed at how quickly Breckin took to his new position.

“The whole team trusts him,” Tate said. “We probably put him in the toughest position for a freshman to play and he’s done a really good job.”

Breckin will perhaps one day move behind the plate, where Tate has excelled throughout his high school career.

Breckin is already getting a taste of the position.

(Breckin Minich/photo by Madison McFarland)

When Tate pitches — which hasn’t been very often this season — Breckin straps on the shin guards and wears the chest protector to catch for his older cousin.

Tate has thrown just four innings this season, but when he has taken the hill, he’s been dominant. He was on the mound for the seventh and eighth innings Wednesday in a do-or-die state play-in game against Camp Hill and got the win in relief.

In his four innings, batters are hitting just .214 against him. He hasn’t given up a run and his struck out three and walked none.

“Pitching is not really by No. 1 thing,” Tate said. “But I’m pretty good at closing and I like the pressure of coming in in tough situations. I’ve done well with that this year.”

Tate is a regular in the weight room. He lifts bright and early before school at 6:30 a.m.

Breckin has begun joining him.

“He’s been in the weight room with me every single morning,” Tate said. “At the beginning, I kind of had to twist his arm. I think he’s falling in love with it.”

Breckin is focused on making his game better.

For a freshman, he is confident, but also realizes he still has a lot to learn and a has lot of room for improvement.

He said he has no better role model than Tate.

“He’s helped me a lot,” Breckin said. “I learn a lot from him, just watching him and how he works behind the plate.

“I knew what I was capable of,” he added. “I just needed to get the playing time to show that I was good enough to play. I always knew I was good enough, but after the first couple of games, I knew I could really do something.”

Redbank is hoping to do something in the state playoffs.

The Bulldogs, though, will certainly be heavy underdogs against 23-0 Serra Catholic in the first round Monday.

Being an underdog, though, has suited Redbank well, Tate said.

“We knew going into (the Camp Hill game) we were heavy underdogs and really had nothing to lose,” Tate said. “Everyone on the team was loose and I think that’s part of the reason why we played so well.

“With Serra Catholic, if we play them 10 times, who knows what the outcome is,” Tate added. “All we have to do is be better than them on Monday.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.