The Gilbert School’s Athletic Director Buckley Morgan said hiring Jorge Pimentel to be the school’s baseball coach was “a pretty easy decision”.
“He came highly recommended by our departing baseball coach, Pat Cooke. After meeting with Jorge it was clear to me that he was highly motivated and very much driven to be a Gilbert baseball coach. Coach Cooke was personally attached to his program and it was very important to him that the person who took his place started at his point and moved forward with the team. Jorge was the individual who we felt could do just that.”
Despite winning only one of its first 10 games, Morgan said he has confidence that the program is headed in the right direction. “We cannot be more excited for the Gilbert baseball program, both middle school and high school. I explained to Jorge upon hiring him that we wanted to create a seamless transition for our student athletes moving from middle school to high school. We wanted both middle school and high school programs to be in close communication with each other in order to have a program that evolved without any of the past transitional issues when student athletes moved from middle to high school.”
Morgan said, “Jorge played a big part in the hiring of a new middle school coach and both of them have taken the ball and ran with it. The Gilbert program is a developing program and coach Pimentel is taking the necessary steps to help our student athletes evolve as a team.”
Pimentel, an application analyst at Hartford Health Care, played four years under former coach Cooke from 2005 to2008. He was a pitcher/middle infielder for the Yellowjackets and served as captain his last two years. He played at Newbury College and was named to the NECC tournament team in 2012. He pitched a complete game in the semifinals of the conference tournament in 2012. He started all four years at Newbury and was captain for three years.
Pimentel went in to serve as assistant varsity baseball coach at Gilbert from 2013 to 2015 under Cooke and then took a few years off for work. He got back into coaching with the New Britain AAU 12U team in 2021. Last year, he coached the New Britain 14U team.
“I’ve come full circle to succeed Coach Cooke as Gilbert Baseball coach,” said Pimentel. “When I graduated Gilbert back in 2008, I would come back and help out during my college years and it was always a goal of mine to take over the program and make my mark at Gilbert, which has a rich baseball history. I came on board as the lead assistant under coach Cooke from 2013 to 2015 where I worked closely with all of the pitchers and on our conditioning program. My core high school memories stem from Gilbert baseball and it was my dream to come back and give back to program and help players have great memories from baseball during their tenure.”
Gilbert won state titles in 1993, 1989, 1979, 1976, 1973, 1972 and 1970 and reached the championship game several other years.
Pimentel believes one of his major strengths is the ability to connect with players at a “high level” and be able to bring out the best in them. “My experience with pitching and my obsession with the game enable me to be able to learn the game at a very deep level and be able to teach the game. My best strength as a coach, and one of the qualities I take the most pride in, is surrounding myself with excellent assistant coaches and letting them be able to coach without micro managing.
He added, “I am lucky to have Brandon Bolesh, who has been coaching with me for a few years now, DJ Reese who is a seasoned coach at many different levels with an endless amount of knowledge and experience, and Fran Gelzinis, who is also a seasoned coach with knowledge and experience. Each coach brings different strengths and together as a staff has been able to connect and help develop our student athletes.”
Pimentel’s core philosophy is “if you play the game the right way and play the game with fun it will translate to wins. I believe in trying to simplify the game to its core and do the little things. Understanding, connecting and developing student athletes to be better students and better athletes sits at the top of our priorities as a coaching staff.”
As for this year’s team, Pimentel said the ‘Jackets lack depth and experience, but, “We have been trending up since day one of practice. Everyone wearing a Yellowjacket baseball uniform has improved every game, and every practice. We have had some one-run losses that could have gone either way. Our team is preparing to finish the season strong and healthy. We have a very good junior class that will make a big splash their senior year. But our sights are set on having a strong second half of this season.”
Pimentel’s hope is to “build a program where our student athletes are excelling in the classroom and creating memorable moments on the baseball field. Gilbert hasn’t been in the state tournament in some years and I look to stop that streak and create a new streak where Gilbert is competing every year.”
Gilbert’s past tradition as a high achieving program is a plus moving forward, said Pimental. “I played and coached under coach Cooke who was part of those great years in Gilbert’s history and I’ve heard countless stories about those golden years that inspire me every day as a coach.”
The middle school’s baseball program is being led by new coaches Ryan Ahlman and Jimmy Lamanna. “The program is excelling and the numbers are great,” said Pimentel. “Creating stability and seeing success at that level is a pleasant surprise and creates excitement.”
As for the high school team this season, Pimentel said, “Yoedy Tavarez is having a break out year all around, roaming centerfield and leading off for us at the plate, hitting .400. It’s been a pleasant surprise to have such strong captains this year in Zack Richardson, Nick Closson, Brett Maguire and Chris Kolosky. As a first year coach having captains that are completely bought in and committed to our philosophy makes our job 100 times easier. I wasn’t sure what we would have for captains but it was a very easy decision to make.”
As for the future of the program, AD Morgan said, “We would like to see the team build its numbers while developing the skills and teamwork necessary to evolve into a more competitive team within the Berkshire League. I would also like to see the love of baseball begin at the middle school and build through the six years that each athlete can play here at Gilbert. If Jorge focuses on making this happen I have no doubt the team will become more and more successful, and also as student athletes in general. Jorge understands we want to win but he also understands Gilbert athletics is about so much more than winning and losing. It’s about teamwork, discipline, academics and sportsmanship, Jorge understands this very well.”
All involved hope to bring back the glory days for Gilbert baseball. It’s just a matter of talent, effort and time..