Tyler Kapuscinski’s favorite picture is of him and his brother Justin on one knee, watching an opposing pitcher warm up before the start of a regular season game. Their 2020 season was cancelled a few days later. This season, he will have many more opportunities to recreate that picture.
Back in their hometowns of Marlboro, New Jersey, the Kapuscinski brothers never thought they would be competitive teammates for a full season. When the 2021 college baseball season comes to an end in May, a dream will come true for both Tyler and Justin.
“We were never on a formal team together,” Tyler Kapuscinski said. “There were maybe one or two times, where he [Justin] might have played up with one of my teams, but we never played a complete season on the same team. The age difference was too great.”
The exact age difference between the two brothers is four years. Justin is 20 years old and Tyler is 24 years old.
The Marist baseball team will open its season on March 20 against MAAC rival, the Rider Broncs. This will be their first game in more than a full calendar year. It will be a strange season for all, but the Red Foxes are excited to take the field once again after having last season stripped from them.
Perhaps the most excited of the group are the two brothers. Tyler, being the older one, wears number 19 and is all too familiar with the Red Foxes program and the majority of their opponents. Tyler will be returning for his sixth season as a graduate student and will bring fire, passion, but most importantly, his leadership to this talented Red Foxes crew that is ready to make a deep run.
“Every team has that leader, when I was a freshman it was Matt Pagano, and he made my transition from high school to college so much simpler,” Tyler said. “That has been nothing but my goal, to make Justin’s transition a lot simpler than mine was, and as well as his entire class.”
As for his younger brother, who wears number 16, Justin is the newcomer of the group. He is listed as a sophomore, but this will be his first full season wearing the Marist uniform. The 6-foot-3-inch infielder does not have much of a college resume thus far as he saw action in only three games last season and has accumulated only three at bats.
With not much time acclimated to the college baseball atmosphere, Justin couldn’t be more excited to have “T” with him for every step of his first full season, something they did not get to benefit from last season.
“With all Tyler’s experience and all his knowledge he can give me, he will help me adapt to it more,” Justin Kapuscinski said. “It really makes me adjust easier instead of worrying about what’s going to happen.”
“I was really looking forward to playing with him [Tyler] and I know he was also looking forward to playing with me last season,” Justin continued. “It was heartbreaking that last season was cut off because it was going to be big playing with him for the first time ever.”
If there is any silver lining to the cancelation of last season, it is the realization of what being on the same lineup card as his brother, or in general, means to Tyler.
“That season being canceled and that month-long period of really not knowing what’s going on and then figuring out that I have the possibility of coming back, I think that really just makes it that much more special in my eyes,” Tyler said. “I couldn’t be more excited to play a full season with Justin and the rest of the team. It’s the closure I wanted.”
The team is back on campus and practice is in full swing. The team hasn’t practiced together as a unit and will only have three full weeks of practice before their season starts in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, just a 45-minute ride from the Kapuscinskis’ childhood hometown.
Justin still lives in Marlboro, but not Tyler. Tyler recently moved to Ramsey, New Jersey, but that did not stop the two from getting together during Marist’s winter break. They both revealed they trained “multiple times” together during the break, and that they worked out every single day.
Although they train together and like to bounce ideas off one another, not every single thing these two do will be the same. They do have different approaches and different mindsets when it comes to their style of play.
For instance, Tyler has his famed hitting journal, something he could not help but smile about when brought up. It has worked for Tyler throughout his career in Poughkeepsie, but this is something Justin will not be implementing into his game.
“No, that’s his own thing,” Justin said as Tyler laughed in the background. “It’s his own cup of tea, I can’t do that.”
Tyler could not hold back on his thoughts, as this seemed to be a regularly brought up topic to him and his team.
“I’ve been huge about the journal, I’ve talked to a lot of the members of the team saying the positive aspects of it, and a lot of people do laugh it off,” Tyler said, and Justin reacted as if he heard the whole spiel before. “I’m going to push it again this season. When we hit live batting practice, I’m going to take my journal out and I’ll start pushing for people to start doing the same thing.”
“It’s the mental side of the game is so difficult that it [the journal] simplifies it in a way,” Tyler said.
The journal, and the brothers, will be back in action soon enough and have a plethora of things they want to focus on heading into what will be Tyler’s final season and Justin’s “first” season.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney and Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Tyler Kapuscinski