When N.C. State and its ace took to the field Saturday afternoon for its second NCAA tournament game, the sun was shining in Raleigh.
By game’s end, the skies had opened up and Brian Brown “was barely gripping the ball.”
The swinging strikeout that ended it, as @bbrownie33 put the finishing touches on his ✌️ complete game of the season in the 🌧️ to lift the #Pack9 to a 9-3 win against Northeastern 👌 pic.twitter.com/QksVSxPJbp
— #Pack9 ⚾️ (@NCStateBaseball) June 2, 2018
In what would be his final collegiate game, the Coatesville High alum delivered a gem, tossing a complete game with eight strikeouts and just three earned runs on 131 pitches to keep the Wolfpack’s season alive. For Brown – who earned ACC Pitcher of the Year honors two weeks ago – it was the bow to wrap up arguably the best season of his career.
“Any time you throw the whole game, it’s in your hands,” Brown said via phone Monday. “It was awesome, especially that ninth inning when I came out, the crowd was cheering me on, but that rain I threw in was something crazy. … I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending.”
Tuesday, things only got better for Brown when the Boston Red Sox selected the Glenmoore native in the ninth round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Unlike some others to win the ACC’s top pitching honor, it took Brown longer to see his name come off the board.
Andrew Miller, the 2006 honoree after his junior season at North Carolina, and fellow N.C. State alum Carlos Rodon, winner in 2012, were both top-10 selections by the Tigers and White Sox, respectively. Last season, J.B. Bukauskas was picked 15th overall by the Astros after being named Pitcher of the Year.
Even so, Brown acknowledged that pitching in one of the top conferences in all of college baseball – the ACC received the second-most bids in the 2018 tournament of any league, with 6 of its 14 teams advancing to the postseason – enabled him to grow since his time as a high-school player.
“To be successful, I think you have to fail,” Brown said. “Pitching every weekend, something came up throughout my three years that I could learn on for my last one.”
As a senior, Brown racked up a 2.74 ERA at the top of the Wolfpack staff. In 16 appearances, all starts, he tossed 98 2/3 innings with 98 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP, helping his team to a top-16 seed in the postseason and the right to host a regional.
Yet it wasn’t always the plan that Brown would be playing for N.C. State. In fact, he initially committed to join in-state foe Duke during his sophomore season at Coatesville before a coaching change in Durham forced Brown to reopen his recruitment.
But knowing that he wanted to head south for college ball, Brown got an offer to play for the Wolfpack the following season and quickly committed.
Four years later, the former Red Raider has the chance to become a pro. And he’s ready to keep evolving.
“I’ve been at the top of my game all year,” Brown said. “[But] I’m always working on my fastball command. That’s the number one thing I need, and my changeup, my best pitch, it can always get better, too.”