Stephen Merrill bats right-handed, plays first base, bats cleanup and wears number 10. He’s one of the Roy C. Ketcham High School baseball team’s premier sluggers.
And, his twin brother isn’t far behind him. Literally.
Erik Merrill bats left-handed, plays right field, is the number five hitter and wears number 11.
The pair have been playing baseball together from their Little League days to now, helping to elevate Ketcham to a 10-1 record entering Tuesday.
In Saturday’s 12-3 win over John Jay, Stephen Merrill knocked in four runs and finished 3 for 3. Erik Merrill put together a 2 for 3 performance.
The senior twins talked to the Journal about Ketcham’s success this year, what they can and can’t agree on and their favorite memories on the diamond.
What’s your take on the success of the team this year?
Stephen: So far, we’re having a great year offensively, up and down the lineup. Jon Cepeda, Matt Lynch, Nick Sheppard — all those guys are having great years. We have 12 seniors, a lot of senior leadership, and that’s phenomenal. Our pitching staff is our strongest point. Offensively we knew we’d be good and defensively is where we need to clean up.
Erik: We’re doing great, but we have more potential than we’re showing. We can play better offensively and defensively. The games we’ve played against John Jay, we’ve showed some potential. Our ceiling is wherever we want to take it. This is the tightest-knit bunch of guys I’ve been a part of.
Stephen, what would you say the team’s goals are?
Stephen: Every year we strive for three goals: the league championship, the Section 1 (Class AA) championship and the state title. We always want to play for the name on the front of our jerseys and not the back. It’s always a big goal to win championships.
Erik, how is the team working toward those goals?
Erik: We’ve got a great team this year. If our offense isn’t there, pitching picks us up. I would say having each other’s back is a big thing.
Do you guys work out together in the offseason, and if so, how advantageous is that?
Stephen: We, as a team, don’t stop. Whether it be open gyms or getting together on the ball field. We all play on the same travel team, and that becomes an advantage in terms of communication. It’s a lot of not talking and more signaling than anything, and that becomes an advantage because other teams don’t know what’s happening. We’re all on the same page.
Does it become even more advantageous being brothers and being able to work out in the offseason?
Erik: Me and Stephen are out in our backyard every chance we get, or out on the field with our dad all the time and it’s always good. We compete against each other. Coach (Pat) Mealy preaches competing in practice, and that makes us better and makes us closer as a team.
What’s one thing the two of you just cannot agree on?
Stephen: Something we’ll get into an argument about is when we strike out. One is getting on the other about balls and strikes.
Erik: When an umpire rings us up: “That was a ball!” “No, that was a strike!” When we used to throw in the backyard, we’d get all mad at each other. We’d yell and scream and our parents would have to break us up. Playing baseball with him is the best.
Can you at least agree on your favorite professional team?
Erik: Yes, we both love the Yankees.
READ MORE: Baseball: Ketcham upends John Jay
What’s the funniest thing you’ve said to each other during a game?
Stephen: That’s a hard one. I know the funniest thing he’s ever done. It was our 10-year-old championship game. (Erik) came on in relief, loaded the bases and called my dad, our coach, out to the mound. He said, “Don’t take me out. I got this.” He struck out the next three. I always look back on that and laugh. I love that story.
Erik: That’s a tough question. (Stephen) says stuff when I strike out that is so obvious. When I strike out he’ll go, “That’s the right thing to do.” When I hit a foul ball he’ll say, “You really got a hold of that one.”
What’s the nicest memory you guys made on the baseball field?
Stephen: I think there isn’t one particular memory, but in general, anytime I can hit a ball and he can drive me in, it’s special. Or when he makes a play to me or makes an out, it’s pretty cool.
Erik: I would say that 10-year-old championship game. Our dad coached, we both pitched in that game and we won the championship. It was nice to win with my dad.
Since both of you pitched in your younger days and you’re more known for your bats now, what’s your take on bat flips?
Erik: If I bat flipped — oh no. That would not be good. Coach Mealy always preaches hustling out of the box. Showing off doesn’t help your team.
Stephen: As a spectator, I love watching it. I know a lot of guys aren’t for it, but I’m for it. If you’re a pitcher and you strike somebody out in a big spot, you fist pump. If you’re a hitter and you come up in a big spot, you should be able to celebrate.
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports