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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Fifth-year senior Brown finally a key factor in Arizona’s World Series run

OMAHA, Neb. — Fifth-year senior Bobby Brown could have quit.

He could have transferred or left the program, like so many other freshmen and sophomores do when their playing time does not meet their expectations upon entering college.

Instead, Brown, who did not become a key cog in Arizona’s baseball program until this, his fifth season, was waiting patiently in the wings for his time. Now the all Pac-12 selection at designated hitter is two wins away from a national title.

“It’s a dream come true,” Brown said. “I’ve been through all the ups and downs. There were some times there where I thought ‘Maybe I should move on to other things.’”

Brown’s downs started after his redshirt freshman year in 2008. In 2009, he appeared in only seven games for the Wildcats, with one hit in five at bats.

“He could have complained and been a nuisance in the locker room and transferred, which you see a lot of kids do these days,” right fielder Robert Refsnyder said. “He didn’t. He kept his head down and worked hard.”

His sophomore season, on a 2010 team head coach Andy Lopez has called “toxic,” did not make the playoffs but was a successful one for Brown, at least in terms of statistics. In 33 starts at left field and designated hitter, he batted .294 with 12 doubles and 18 runs, and figured to become a permanent starter his junior season.

Prior to his junior season, Brown was again bumped to the back burner for Josh Garcia, now the team’s graduate assistant. Brown started seven games, getting 11 hits and five RBI in 33 at bats.

“I like Bobby so much,” Lopez said. “I thought he’d be more of a factor last year, I really did. He’s always shown the ability to hit.”

After his roller coaster career, Brown broke out in his last lap around the diamond, hitting .356 with 54 RBI from 68 hits, in 50 games, all career highs.

“I think the biggest difference between this year and years past is his ability to slow the game down,” Lopez said. “He was making bad decisions on pitches and foolish base running mistakes, things like that. He has done a marvelous job at slowing the game down and getting good at bats, and being successful at big at bats.”

But even this season was not totally smooth for Brown.

He struggled to start the season, hitless in his first 14 at bats before being benched against Auburn after a woeful two-for-21 start at the plate. He was reinstated in the lineup March 24 against Oregon State, hit the go-ahead home run that would eventually win the game and has not looked back. Brown’s seven regular season triples were tied for tops in the Pac-12 conference.

Despite Brown’s hard work and commitment to the Arizona program, the 2012 MLB draft came and went, all 40 rounds, and Brown’s name was not called.

“Not getting drafted adds fuel to my fire,” Brown said. “As soon as I get my opportunity, I’m going to run with it. I don’t really want to think about that too much, I’m just going to try to get that ring.”

In three College World Series games, Brown is batting .300 with one of Arizona’s four postseason home runs.

Brown’s story is one Lopez is fond of telling and will continue to tell long after Brown has gone.

“There will be someone, somewhere, that will be down,” Lopez said. “He hasn’t played, or hasn’t made a road trip and his body language will be saying he’s in the tank, and I’ll probably mention a guy by the name of Bobby Brown.”

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