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Diving in with Brian Monack
It’s not every day that a Quinnipiac University student is featured on SportsCenter. But Bobcats junior outfielder Brian Monack is no stranger to making the Top 10 plays of the night. Monack made the No. 1 play of the night on the March 12 edition of SportsCenter with a backhanded grab while running toward the outfield wall to rob College of Charleston’s Matt Mansilla of an extra-base hit in the bottom of the fifth. At the end of the week, SportsCenter named this play the No. 2 play of the week.
Last season, Monack reached No. 1 after he robbed a home run and fell over the outfield wall at Bobcat Field.
The Chronicle sat down with Monack to talk about his catches, as well as his life in baseball and his expectations for his team and himself this season.
Q: How did you first hear that you made ESPN?
A: One of my friends that I grew up with and played baseball with called me and it was probably like 11:30. He said, “I’m pretty sure I just saw you on ESPN.” So I turned it on and there it was.
Q: Is that similar to your experience last year?
A: Last year, I got a call from ESPN at my house and they told me to watch at 6 o’clock. My parents called me and they told me to watch it.
Q: What was your interview with First Take last year like?
A: It was funny. They didn’t really prepare me at all with questions. So it was just right on the spot. Knowing that I was on live TV and a lot of people were watching, it was kind of mind-blowing.
Q: Which catch was more exciting?
A: Definitely the one here, because it was home and a lot of our fans were there. It was a conference game, and it ended up being 5-4. It meant a lot more and was more exciting too.
Q: Physically, which catch was tougher to make?
A: Physically, probably the one at College of Charleston because you are going straight back on a ball and we don’t really work on that too much. We’re always doing fence drills for robbing home runs.
Q: Did you make similar catches growing up?
A: Yeah. I don’t know about how good they were because I never saw them. I’ve made some pretty nice catches, but I think those are definitely two of my best.
Q: In the same game that you made the catch, you also pitched two innings. Were you a pitcher growing up? How much experience have you had?
A: I’ve been a pitcher my whole life. I wanted to pitch in college, but I also wanted to play everyday. I had to make that choice. I’ve been pitching in the summer, so Skip (Coach Dan Gooley) used me this year.
Q: How’d you first get into baseball?
A: My brother was always an athlete, and just being around him and his friends, I just grew up playing sports – basketball and baseball.
Q: What athletes did you look up to growing up?
A: Michael Jordan, just because he was probably one of the best to ever play a sport – Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill.
Q: You grew up right in the middle, right?
A: Yeah, I’ve been a Yankees fan my entire life. But I’m also a Patriots fan, so it’s kind of weird. Us Connecticut people are weird. We don’t have a team except for the Hartford Whalers, and they’re gone now.
Q: You wear No. 5. Does that carry any significance?
A: I’ve always worn that number my whole life. My freshman year I didn’t get it, so I wore No. 23, which [digits add up to] five.
Q: You had a little rough patch in the southern part of the schedule. What are your thoughts on the NEC play?
A: I think we have a very good chance to do very well. We have a lot of pitching, and a lot of experience pitching. We have a lot of our lineup back. We’re missing two big guys, but I feel that we are going to have enough good bats to do well.
Q: For yourself, what are your expectations?
A: I’d like to bat about .300. I’d like to win the NEC regular season and also the conference tournament – to get to an NCAA regional. I guess, just be happy with the season that we have, whether it’s winning or losing.
Q: You tied for first place your freshman year, and then dropped to seventh place last year. Can you talk about how this happened?
A: The first game we played last season was probably our back-breaker. We had them beat. It was the bottom of the ninth inning and then they got a man on and then they had a bloop hit that scored like two runs. It was just a little chippy hit. I think that right there was our back-breaker, even though that was our first conference series. After that, we just couldn’t get momentum. We started off hot down south last year too. We were hitting the ball, but it didn’t really show up in the win and loss column. We were playing well down there, but when we got back we just couldn’t click. Our pitching would be on and our hitting wouldn’t score. Or our hitting would score, and our pitching would let up a lot of runs. We never really meshed. But this year, we have good chemistry and good leaders. Hopefully it trickles down from the top.