Throughout the 2019 Cape League season, one reliever stood out amongst the rest. He dominated in every outing and lead the league in saves. It was Falmouth’s own Zach Brzykcy.
Despite winning the CCBL’s Most Outstanding Relief Pitcher of 2019, when he heads to the mound for road matchups you can hear the public address announcer struggle to say his last name.
The botched echoes from the ballpark’s speakers begin to ring throughout the field.
“Now on the mound, number 38 Zachary Brye-zicky,” or “Now pitching, number 38 Zach Brizz-icky.”
“It’s like you see a brick,” the right-hander from Virginia Tech said about how to pronounce his last name. “Brick-see.”
He has even struggled with his own last name.
“In fifth grade, there was a quilt with all of our pictures on it and we all signed it,” Brzykcy said. “I misspelled my last name.”
No matter how anyone pronounces Brzykcy, his pitching is all you need to see.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righty from Taylorsville, North Carolina has consistently reached high-90s on radar guns throughout the Cape.
But Brzykcy almost missed his opportunity to impress scouts with his high velocity.
He quit baseball in his junior year at Alexander Central High School.
“I was burned out,” Brzykcy said. “I played it all my life since I was four and I just wanted a break. I took off and I didn’t think I was coming back. I thought I was done and I would never come back to it.”
All year long, Zach Brzykcy would train with his father John in an old chicken house. Every day was baseball. His father set up stations throughout the long, chicken coup in order to get his son ready for the next level.
“In his junior year, he just got the point where he didn’t want to play,” John Brzykcy said. “He just wanted a break and I was trying to get him interested in other sports.”
He didn’t play any other sport and for a year and a half, Brzykcy didn’t even touch a baseball.
The Brzykcy family has baseball in their blood. In the 1950s, Zach’s grandfather John J. Brooks played minor league baseball in the New York Yankees farm system.
John Brzykcy was a die-hard Yankees fan and loved the game since his youth. He was devastated when Zach quit.
“I couldn’t even watch baseball that year,” John Brzykcy said. “He didn’t understand the gift that he has. We were trying to explain to him that junior year was the most important year for getting recruited into colleges.”
“My family was a big influence and they were really upset when I decided not to play,” the rising junior said. “I could tell my parents were really sad about it. I missed the game and I wanted to be back.”
His senior year, Zach Brzykcy returned to the mound for the Cougars. This time, he was making a last-ditch effort to receive a scholarship offer from a top NCAA Division One program.
“In my first outing, a JuCo and a small DI were there and offered me,” Brzykcy said. “I thought that maybe I should wait.”
He received multiple offers from schools and eventually committed to Virginia Tech after receiving a scholarship offer from head coach Pat Mason.
“He threw 12 or 13 pitches and they said, ‘Oh, you’re in,'” John Brzykcy said.
But Brzykcy wasn’t out of the woods yet. Virginia Tech’s athletic department ended up firing Pat Mason and the coaching staff and brought in a new team of coaches.
Zach Brzykcy was committed to Virginia Tech, but he had no clue where he was going to school because of the coaching change
New head coach John Szefc wanted to see Brzykcy before giving him a scholarship.
“For about a month, we weren’t sure where he was going,” John Brzykcy said. “That was the tricky part about the process with Virginia Tech.”
He ended up blowing Szefc away and receiving some scholarship money and now, Brzykcy is one of the most powerful arms in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
There is still more work left for closer Zach Brzykcy and the Falmouth Commodores this postseason.
But when you hear “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash and Brzykcy steps on the mound, get ready to be entertained by Falmouth’s flamethrower.
Maxwell Trink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @MaxwellTrink.