Gilbert Graduate Supports Baseball Program
BY STEVE BARLOW
WINSTED — The two schools with the best Berkshire League baseball pedigrees are Shepaug and Gilbert, though anyone unfamiliar with history might not have guessed the Yellowjackets.
But it’s true.
Gilbert owns five state championships, the same number as Shepaug, and no one else in the BL has won more than one, if that.
The Yellowjackets won three Class M state titles in the 1970s under legendary coach Moe Morhardt and, in fact, made half of the state finals in that decade.
That was some time ago, however, when Winsted was a bustling industrial town and Gilbert was a much bigger school. Now he has the third-lowest number of boy entries in the BL, and the baseball team hasn’t qualified for the state tournament since 2018.
Jorge Pimentel intends to turn things around as Gilbert’s new head coach.
“We have a deep tradition here,” Pimentel said. “We want to bring back the pride of the Yellowjackets.”
Gilbert finished last season 2-17 and had only 14 players on the roster, which meant there was no junior varsity team. Pimentel, himself a Gilbert graduate, knows that has to change.
“In the middle school program this year, we had 28 children,” he noted. “We have baseball players. All that remains is to motivate them. »
Pimentel played at Newbury (Mass.) College after graduating in 2008 from Gilbert, where he was an infielder and pitcher under his predecessor, Pat Cooke, who was a member of the Class S state champions in 1989. Gilbert’s most recent Class S title was in 1993.
Cooke was in charge of the Yellowjackets from 2004-14 and 2018-22. He quit to spend more time coaching his own children in youth sports.
Pimentel, 32, was also an assistant manager under Cooke from 2013 to 2015, at the same time as the youngest member of the Winchester Board of Selectmen. He now works as a computer analyst for Hartford Healthcare.
Most recently, Pimentel assisted former minor league pitcher Brooks Belter with Belter Baseball Academy’s 12U and 14U teams.
“I want to connect the dots between Gilbert, college and what Brooks does there,” Pimentel said.
The new coach believes the closet is not empty and that Gilbert can be competitive next spring. It is then a question of rebuilding the program and the tradition.
“We want the kids to stay with Gilbert, instead of going to Regional (rival Crosstown Northwestern) or Wolcott Tech. We want them to stay here for their education and their baseball,” Pimentel said. “We want to bring back the passion.”