By Jake Tiger
Coming off a glorious Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship victory in 2021, Rider baseball was ready to defend its first title in 11 years.
However, junior infielder David Bermudez, an instrumental piece of Rider’s run, was not as eager to saddle up for the Broncs.
Though Bermudez was one of the most important players on a championship-caliber squad, he still felt that he was being underutilized by Rider and was ready for a more substantial role. Unhappy with his situation and seeking a fresh start, he entered the transfer portal and eventually settled on conference rival Manhattan University.
“I just felt like my time here was at an end. I wanted a fair opportunity to play everyday, and I don’t think I was getting that at Rider,” said Bermudez. “I felt like if I wanted that, I had to go somewhere else.”
The move was a rare and shocking instance of an interconference transfer made even more perplexing by Bermudez’s undeniable success and importance to the Broncs.
“We discussed at the end of the year and [Bermudez] felt like it was the best move for him … so we supported him,” said Rider Head Coach Barry Davis. “That’s kinda just the way it went.”
While in the transfer portal, another key factor for Bermudez was furthering his academic career as a graduate student. The junior had just graduated from Rider a year ahead of schedule, earning degrees in business analytics and sports management.
Bermudez felt that Manhattan was a place where he could thrive academically, but he ultimately made the move because of the Jaspers’ coaching staff and the belief they had in him as a player.
“I chose Manhattan because of the coach,” said Bermudez. “He contacted me, he believed in me, he wanted me on his team … that’s all I wanted was a coach to believe in me.”
Through 36 games in his new green and white threads, Bermudez has seamlessly sewn himself into the front of the Jaspers lineup, undoubtedly being their most integral piece. He currently leads his new squad in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, runs, homers and the list goes on.
Bermudez already has eight home runs in his first season at Manhattan compared to just one home run in 80 games and 207 at bats across three seasons as a Bronc. He has also already set career-highs in hits and runs with 57 and 40 respectively, while still having 14 regular season games to improve on those totals.
“[Bermudez is] a good player … great kid. He gave us great effort everyday,” said Davis. “As you can see he’s having a great year for [Manhattan.]”
Despite his recent success as a Jasper, the revamped Bermudez was rather tame when he made his highly-anticipated return to Lawrenceville.
When the Jaspers took on Rider in a three-game series from April 22-24, Bermudez hit just 3-12 across the trio of games, a noticeable drop from his team-best .383 batting average.
Rider claimed the series by winning two of the three contests, spoiling Bermudez’s revenge tour.
Fortunately for both parties, there seemed to be no bad blood between Bermudez and the Broncs, as he made an effort to catch up with some of his former teammates whenever he could.
“I’m still boys with all the players, and I respect the coaches,” said Bermudez. “I enjoyed my time here. I’ll always be thankful for the opportunity they gave me, but like I said, it just had to happen.”