Brandon Eierman made a leap of faith and it has paid off handsomely for the 16-year-old Columbia Reds baseball player.
Confronted last spring with the choice of whether to play another season at the 15-16 level, or whether to challenge himself in 17-18 ball, Eierman chose to move up.
Now his summer team has two shots at playing in national tournaments, and his hitting is one of the key reasons.
Eierman, hitting third in the order, has batted .343 (35-for-102) with three doubles, four triples and four homers.
That performance follows an All-County high school season in which the junior batted .443 (39-for-88) for state runner-up Atholton. He had 14 doubles, one triple, two homers and 26 RBIs.
"It was a big decision whether to go 15-16 or 17-18, but I hit .330 for 15-16 last summer for the Reds and I thought that the only way to get better was to move up," Eierman said. "I didn't think I'd do this well my first year at 17-18. I'm glad I moved up."
Another person who's happy about that decision is Reds manager Larry Thompson. With Eierman knocking in a lot of big runs, the Reds posted a 17-15 record and finished third in their seven-team Baltimore Metro League division behind Liberty Road and the Yankee Rebels.
"He's arguably the best hitter we have," Thompson said.
The third-place finish earned the Reds a place in this weekend's American Amateur Baseball Congress' state qualifying tournament. A victory would send the Reds to the regional tournament in New York.
Another option is the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's World Series in Indiana. The Reds must win a state qualifier this weekend to earn a spot in that national tournament.
Eierman said he thinks that batting third has helped his average tremendously. "I'm real comfortable at that spot because I have Ryan Schneider batting behind me. People know his reputation as a good hitter and they don't know me, so I get better pitches to hit. I credit him for part of my success."
Schneider, a catcher who batted cleanup for Atholton, has hit .430 with seven doubles, two triples and six homers for the Reds following an All-County high school season that included a league-leading 31 RBIs and a .323 average.
Schneider will play for UMBC next year on a partial academic scholarship.
"Brandon played really well this summer and it was hard because he's only 16," Schneider said. "What he accomplished didn't really surprise me because he can hit."
Eierman, who plays either third base or right field, said he prefers right field.
Eierman credits Reds coach Paul Donovan with teaching him the most about hitting.
"The rest has just been a lot of work on what I've learned," Eierman said. "I came into a [hitting] zone last summer and have stayed in it."