Versatile Kearny lad is double threat

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kearny senior pitcher/infielder Nick Beauchene.


By Jim Hague

Nick Beauchene had hit the proverbial wall. The Kearny High School senior wasn’t performing like his coach, Frank Bifulco, knew he could.

“He kind of just mellowed out and was flat lining,” Bifulco said. “He started to get frustrated a lot.”

So Bifulco had a little heart-to- heart with his standout pitcher/corner infielder.

“I had a little talk with him and told him he needed to step it up a little,” Bifulco said.

“I was just over thinking too much,” Beauchene said. “The talk we had defi nitely helped me. I needed someone to tell me what I was doing wrong. He called me in and told me that I just needed to relax and become a better player.”

Maybe all it took was just a little pep talk.

“In reality, I’ve now taken a different approach,” Beauchene said. “I don’t think at all now. I just play. The team has also picked me up. That’s all I’ve been doing lately. I’m trying to make it all a little easier. I’m seeing the ball and hitting the ball.”

Last week, Beauchene certainly saw the baseball and smacked the daylights out of it.

Beauchene had a three-run homer against Memorial, then followed it up with a 3-for-4 day with a homer and fi ve RBI, leading the Kardinals to a big 16-8 win over state-ranked North Bergen. In that game, Beauchene limited the Bruins to just three earned runs in collecting the victory on the mound.

For his efforts, Beauchene has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Bifulco said that he had a good feeling that his chat with Beauchene was going to pay dividends.

“I could tell he turned it up,” Bifulco said. “He hit the homer against Memorial, turned to me and said, ‘Boom, I’m back. I’m ready to go.’ I told him that I needed him to be back.”

Bifulco said that he likes Beauchene’s personality.

“He’s the kind of kid that you know exactly how he feels,” Bifulco said. “He wears his emotions on his sleeve. He doesn’t like losing and he lets you know it. He wants to perform so well all the time.”

Beauchene said that his confidence has helped the turnaround.

“I know what I can do and I believe in myself,” Beauchene said. “I think taking a new approach has definitely helped me. I used to get upset a lot if something didn’t go well. But now, if I let up a hit or if I strike out, there’s nothing I can do to change it. I stay within myself and wait for the next at-bat, the next game to get another chance. I know that I can’t always fail.”

Beauchene likes the idea that he had his breakthrough game against North Bergen, which was ranked No. 17 in the entire state at the time.

“It definitely gives me and the team a lot of confidence,” Beauchene said. “It was a huge accomplishment. I didn’t go up to the plate, thinking I was going to hit a home run, but doing it against a team ranked in the state really means a lot. I don’t think we’re afraid of anyone now. We know we can beat any team any day, as long as we come to play.”

The Kardinals have also defeated St. Peter’s Prep recently, as Dave Bush fired a one-hitter against the Marauders, another local power.

“Beating St. Peter’s and North Bergen shows that we’re a good team, as long as we put our minds to it,” Beauchene said. “We just have to let the game come to us.”

And as for Beauchene?

“I had to do it,” Beauchene said. “I had to prove it. I know I’ve become an accomplished hitter, but I like to pitch as well. I like pitching. I’ve grown into it. I’m now becoming a better hitter every day.”

Bifulco seems to think that Beauchene’s success has come from feeling less pressure.

“We changed the lineup a little and moved him from third to fifth in the batting order,” Bifulco said. “He’s seeing more fastballs there and he’s jumping on them, hitting the ball hard. He now has a different approach to the game. I felt like he was trying to do too much. I told him that I didn’t need him to do more.”

Bifulco also likes Beauchene’s mental status.

“His attitude is a lot better,” Bifulco said. “He’s happy on the fi eld and he’s more balanced at the plate. He’s also pitching better. He’s doing the little things that have made him more dominant. When he’s on, look out, because he’s dangerous. Nick is always going to be Nick. He marches to his own drummer. But he’s done a great job lately, pitching, hitting, playing third and first. He’s starting to get it now. He’s been working hard at it.”

Bifulco believes that Beauchene can become a college baseball player.

“He definitely can swing a college bat,” Bifulco said. “He’s working hard to use the whole fi eld. We’ve been trying to tell him to drive the ball the other way and that’s helping him.”

Playing college baseball is now something that is in Beauchene’s mind.

“That’s one of my biggest goals,” Beauchene said. “I want to play on the next level. I’m going to continue to show my abilities and see what happens.”

Caldwell College and New Jersey City University have expressed some interest. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” Beauchene said.

Sure beats over thinking every day.

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