Monmouth Academy’s Brandon Smith takes off down the line after laying down a bunt during Wednesday’s Class C South regional championship game against Sacopee Valley at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Monmouth baseball players spent the fall and winter trying to convince junior Brandon Smith to join the team.

Fellow junior Kyle Palleschi said he even spoke to Smith for 90 minutes before the spring season officially began. Palleschi reminded Smith how good he was when he played baseball.

Monmouth’s Brandon Smith lays down a bunt at practice Thursday at Monmouth Academy. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Smith said baseball wasn’t a sport he loved, but Palleschi didn’t back down.

“He used to play in Little League, and he was good,” Palleschi said. “He didn’t love it, and I said, ‘This is the last chance with this group of guys because a lot of them are seniors and a lot of our friends are seniors.’ I told him this is his last chance. I told him it doesn’t hurt to come to a meeting.”

Smith stopped playing baseball after sixth grade because of an injury. He also started to play travel soccer in the spring. Getting back into baseball crossed Smith’s mind in 2020 when he was in the eighth grade, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled sports that spring.

Smith still wasn’t a member of the Mustangs when practices began, but a text message from Palleschi finally convinced Smith to play baseball for the first time in five years.


“The first practice, I didn’t show up because I wasn’t planning on playing, and we had a little Rocket League tournament for school — I was doing that,” Smith said. “He sent me a big ol’ paragraph after practice, and he was like, ‘Yo, we need you, man.’ I joined the team the next day.”

Monmouth Academy’s Brandon Smith is playing baseball for the first time since sixth grade and has become a key contributor on the Mustangs’ path to the Class C state final, which is slated for later this week at the University of Southern Maine. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Smith quickly found a role on the Mustangs baseball team, playing left field and batting ninth.

Coach Eric Palleschi said the players told Smith he could be a starter.

“They told him, there was a starting job — if you want it — go earn it. And he did,” Eric Palleschi said.

Smith, a three-sport athlete who also a member of Monmouth’s soccer team and the Cony/Monmouth/Erskine/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-op hockey team, used his speed and hand-eye coordination to become a specialist by laying down bunts and moving runners along.

“I am a lefty, I can get it down the third base line and I am pretty quick, so I have a head start from the left batter’s box,” Smith said. “I am not the best hitter, but my bunting makes up for it.”


Smith laid 10 or so bunts down for hits this season, including in the Class C South regional final when his bunt single moved Sammy Calder into scoring position in the third inning to set up the game’s only run.

“We went up to Carrabec and I had three bunts in that game,” Smith said. “That’s when I realized, wow, I need to start doing this more — this is my thing — I figured it out. I can bring a lot to this team by bunting the ball.”

Even though Smith took several years off from baseball, Calder said he was confident Smith could be an asset for Monmouth.

“Well, I kind of knew because I played Little League with him and he was a pretty good player,” Calder, also a junior, said. “I knew he was going to be a good piece of the team. When he started laying down those bunts, I was like, OK, this guy can really help us now.”

Smith has a .350 batting average this season. Once he’s on base, there’s a good chance he’s coming around to score.

“It’s wicked important,” Smith said of getting on base. “At the Oak Hill game, I was leadoff in the third inning, I think it was, I got on base and the top of the order just hit me in. Once I get on base, the top of the order usually hits me in. I think I have the most runs scored on the team this year.”


In the regional semifinal win against Oak Hill, Smith led the bottom of the third off with a single, stole second base, and reached third base when Mathew Marquis drove him in with a single, which tied the game at 1-1. Monmouth ended up winning 3-1.

Eric Palleschi said Smith is the Mustangs’ spark plug.

“He’s always on the go,” Eric Palleschi said. “He plays hard, he works hard.”

Monmouth’s Brandon Smith lays down a bunt at practice Thursday at Monmouth Academy. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Smith’s work ethic has rubbed off on his teammates.

“He’s a competitor, he pushes us to be better,” Kyle Palleschi said. “He has worked on that bunt all year long, and it has come up huge in the playoffs.”

Smith said returning to baseball is the best decision he has made.

“I have grown up with these kids my whole life — we are brothers,” Smith said. “I have never played sports with most of these guys besides Sammy and Manny Calder, and it has been great to be on a team with them.”

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