In the Locker Room: Philip Brua

The Review caught up with senior pitcher Philip Brua — who led the team in wins (6) and earned run average (2.78) last season — to talk about the Yeomen’s playoff hopes, stage-dancing at the ’Sco and how baseball fits into his future.

Alen Cisija

What can we expect from OC baseball this season?

We expect to be in the playoffs this year. That’s the goal. Anything else would be seen as a failure. Our goal isn’t to go .500. Our goal is to get to the playoffs. We want to be the first team in school history to do that.

What made the team successful last year?

Our whole team dynamic has changed over the four years I’ve been here. Last year we had the best team chemistry and we just had the older guys step in and produce in crunch time.

How is the team dealing with the transition to a new coach?

There aren’t any dramatic changes. [Head coach] Adrian [Abrahamowicz] was an assistant before and he recruited my entire class. We all know him well because he made an effort to talk to us a lot during the recruiting process. Last year was more of a transition year because Coach Lahetta gave him a lot of head coaching responsibilities to make the transition into this season smoother.

Which game are you looking forward to the most?

Playing Wooster is always big. We’ve beat them only once in the last 47 years or something. There’s always been trash talking between the two teams. Last year, they intentionally threw at one of our guys (Benjamin Puterbaugh, College senior). There’s just bad blood between us. It’d be nice to beat them because they’re a top-10 team in the nation every year. We’ve played really poorly in our midweek games so this year we really want to play well in all 40 games.

Tell me about your experience playing in a summer league with other college prospects?

I played for the Lorain County Ironmen in a wood bat collegiate league. It’s mostly Division I players, with some DII and DIII guys as well. You travel around the Midwest, as far west as Missouri and as far east as Pennsylvania. It’s supposed to simulate a minor league season, because you play every day and go on long bus rides. It was a lot of fun because I became friends with a lot of guys who play at other schools.

You’re obviously talented enough to be playing at a higher level. Why Oberlin?

When I first got here, I was a mediocre baseball player, at best. I was throwing 76-77 mph at first, and last night I clocked in at 88 (mph). Our head coach saw something in me. A lot of the improvement has to do with hard work and dedication from everyone on our team. When I first got here, this is where I should have been playing, and now I’ve worked into developing into a much better player.

What are your plans after Oberlin? Is baseball in your future?

Yeah, I’m in talks with some organizations. Realistically, I’m probably going to end up signing as a free agent unless some team becomes interested enough to draft me. The San Diego Padres have expressed the most interest, watching and keeping in touch with me. I got invited to go to their pre-draft workout camp after the season. It’s sort of a last-minute thing for guys that they’re interested in. I would obviously start at a minor league affiliate, but in talking with my coach, I think I could move up easily. My velocity is above average for a sidearm pitcher. Most sidearm pitchers in the big leagues throw between 80 and 84 (mph) and I throw 85 to 88 (mph).

Is there anyone who you model your game after?

Not really. I’m just a big fan of baseball in general. I can sit down and watch any team play anyone. I just like to watch the game. If I had to pick someone, I’d say Cliff Lee. He’s never been an overpowering pitcher. He’s really good at hitting his spots and mixing up his pitches

You claim you started the stage-dancing fad at the ’Sco. Tell me more about how that began.

[Laughs] It started my freshman year with Nick Monroe [a former Oberlin catcher, OC ’09]. He was a big ’Sco guy. We started doing it when it wasn’t crowded it all. We did it when there would be only 30 people there, if that. We would be the only ones dancing and it translated into every time we went to the ’Sco. One time as we were walking in really late, Mama ’Sco said, “Finally, my dancers are here.” It’s definitely been a lot of fun in the past four years.

Who is going to win the World Series this year?

I don’t know. Red Sox are looking good. I’ve been a fan of good pitching, so I like the Phillies. Their starting rotation looks pretty good. Not the Indians, who I’m a fan of. [Laughs]