In the jubilation that followed Vanderbilt’s victory at the Louisville Regional on Monday, Russell Brewer made sure he was heard.
“He looked at me (Monday) and said, ‘I’m going to pitch this weekend,’” coach Tim Corbin said.
Brewer, a junior right-hander, understands all too well, though, that he does not have the final say in that regard. Thus, he has no way to know for certain whether his intentions will be honored this weekend when the Commodores face Florida State in a best-of-three Super Regional at Tallahassee, Fla.
It has been nearly a month now since the last time Corbin or pitching coach Derek Johnson called down to the bullpen for Brewer, who has been the Commodores’ closer for most of the past three seasons. Arm soreness has been the official explanation.
“He just has some pain,” Corbin said. “We’re not overly concerned about it because each time we’ve given him rest he’s been able to feel better.”
Brewer went eight days between appearances in mid-April and was hit hard in two of his next three outings. He then went 13 days without pitching in a game but gave up at least one run in three straight
All 10 of the runs he has allowed this season have been since that first break. Prior to that he did not allow a run in 13 innings. The last time he pitched was May 15 at Mississippi State.
“It was very, very minor,” Brewer said. “They’re just being very cautious. No big deal. … It’s one of those things, just a little bit of soreness.”
He notched his sixth save of the season and the 18th of his career on April 21. That got him within one of the school’s career saves record set by Ryan Rote in 2004-05.
He has yet to tie the mark.
“That’s just one of those things that if it happens, it happens,” he said. “If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Rote, coincidentally, was the Commodores’ closer the only other time they advanced to the Super Regional (2004).
The current Vanderbilt team relied heavily on its bullpen during last weekend’s Louisville Regional but got only one save among its four victories. That was by Chase Reid, who has notched three during Brewer’s latest hiatus.
“We’d love to have (Brewer),” Corbin said. “To think we’ve gotten through a (regional) tournament without our closer is another positive sign for us. At the same, I’d like to think if we could get him back it will help us.”
If Brewer has anything to say about it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
SUPER REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Vanderbilt (45-18) vs. Florida State (45-17)
(at Howser Stadium, all times CDT)
Friday: 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday: Noon (ESPN)
Sunday (if necessary): Noon (ESPN)