Baseball | Aurora coach Michael Brancazio steps down to pursue athletic administration

Steve Batko
Correspondent

Michael Brancazio has seen many things and been a big part of many highlights within all levels of the Aurora baseball program in recent years.

On Tuesday, the Greenmen coach submitted his resignation to pursue an athletic administration certification and expand his career. 

“This decision was not easy as I look at expanding my professional career in education,” Brancazio said. “The players, their families, our great coaching staff and our administration could not have been more supportive.”

In seven years of coaching, including the lost 2020 pandemic season, Brancazio compiled an impressive 98-51 record.

“The memories created with our players and friendships with the coaching staff and anyone affiliated with our program for the past decade-plus will last a lifetime and I am grateful,” said Brancazio, who first joined the Aurora program in 2010.

He was a middle school coach, then was the head freshman baseball coach in 2011-12 and a varsity assistant in 2013-14.

“The support from our athletic director, Mr. Paul Powers, and athletic administration assistant, Mary Beth Tuma, was remarkable,” said Brancazio. “Their help, assistance and guidance were crucial during this journey, especially with all the changes which occur in the spring sports season.”

With Brancazio at the helm, Aurora reached the Division I state semifinals in 2015, were district champions in 2017 and reached the Division II district semifinals in 2019.

As an assistant coach, Brancazio helped the Greenmen secure a Division I state semifinals appearance in 2013 and a district crown in 2014. 

Aurora was conference champions and sectional champs in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017, claimed more sectional titles in 2018 and 2019, grabbed district titles in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 and were regional champions in 2013 and 2015.

“It truly was an honor and privilege to be head coach for the Aurora Greenmen,” said Brancazio. “Our players are outstanding student-athletes who play the game the right way and represent themselves well on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

“I want to thank our players and their families for their constant support,” he added. “Without our talented group of players and their constant, hardworking, diligent effort, the program’s success does not exist.”

Some of Brancazio’s awards include the 2019 and 2015 Greater Cleveland Baseball Coaches Association (GCBCA) Coach of the Year, the Suburban League Coach of the Year in 2017, the Cleveland Plain Dealer High School Baseball Coach of the Year in 2015, the Chagrin Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2015 and the 2013 GCBCA Assistant Coach of the Year Award. He is a member of the OHSAA Pitch Count Committee.

“My proudest moments as coach were watching our players [many of which were also middle school students] grow and develop not only as players but also as people,” said Brancazio, who has had a slew of players go on to play at all levels of collegiate baseball, including many Division I products.

“There’s nothing like it and seeing them progress, get better, and some even play at the collegiate and pro level is special,” Brancazio said. “Our players work hard and reap the benefits and as their coach, it was special to witness.”

Brancazio admits there were challenges — not the least of which was dealing with all of the adversity that COVID-19 dealt. 

On the field challenges are always difficult — having a strong defensive club, pitching command, pitching depth, or having to manufacture runs when it seems like scoring is impossible. Those are just a few.

“Being one of, if not the smallest Division I program in the state, many times in the past decade or so made these great seasons even more special,” said Brancazio. “Success in baseball is difficult and it is arguably the toughest playoff road in high school sports, and watching the improvements and grit of our players against tough competition was an unforgettable experience.”

The 2015 campaign (22-6) was the pinnacle of Brancazio’s career as a head coach. The magical season ended with a 6-1 loss to Ohio powerhouse Cincinnati Moeller in the state semifinal at Huntington Park in Columbus.

Aurora had a masterful 3-0 win over defending state champion Massillon Jackson in the 2015 Division I regional final at Canton’s Thurman Munson Stadium.

This season, Brancazio’s veteran staff included George Snider (varsity assistant), Matt Carpenter (volunteer varsity assistant), Alex Darovich (varsity student assistant coach), Victor Torres (Junior Varsity), Adam Berger (freshman), and Tyler Groth (JV and freshman volunteer assistant).

For the 2021 season, Aurora finished 14-8 against a quality schedule and finished near the top of the strong Suburban League American Division.

Aurora was eliminated this year 12-8 in a loss to Nordonia in the Euclid Division I sectional final. The JV squad collected 15 wins this season.

Off the diamond, over 65% of the program’s 52 players this season were Suburban League All-Academic with a 3.5 GPA or greater.

“I know the future is bright for the Greenmen baseball program and I wish our players nothing but the best,” said Brancazio. “The facilities are all upgraded, our administration along with the city parks and recreation department support our program and most importantly, our players represent everything that is right with high school sports. This is a great program which I have no doubt will continue its success.”