Conversation: GVSU pitcher Tate Brawley discusses two stints on ESPN’s SportsCenter

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Tate Brawley (22) and Connor Glick (16) fist bump at the mound after closing out an inning during the game vs. Ashland on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Tate Brawley (22) and Connor Glick (16) fist bump at the mound after closing out an inning during the game vs. Ashland on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

Brady McAtamney

Grand Valley State senior baseball pitcher Tate Brawley has secured his moment of fame not once but twice in the past week with two appearances on ESPN’s flagship highlight show, SportsCenter Top 10 Plays.

Each time, he made no-look catches from the mound on screaming-line drives hit back up the middle behind his back. His first play was credited as the No. 7 play of the day on Tuesday, April 10, and the second was credited at No. 3 on Friday, April 13.

Brawley sat down with Grand Valley Lanthorn Assistant Sports Editor Brady McAtamney for a conversation about his highlights.

Brady McAtamney: When you made that first play that got you at No. 7, what was your reaction to it?

Tate Brawley: Well, I’ve actually done that before, so when the ball was hit back up the middle and I caught it behind my back, I was like, ‘All right, just gotta make the throw,’ and I almost threw it over my first baseman’s head. So, the next time I got the play, I made sure to hit my first baseman in the chest.

BM: When you got back to the dugout, what did your teammates say to you after that first play?

TB: When the pitch was thrown, ball hit back up the middle and I caught it behind my back, I immediately heard the dugout. All my teammates go crazy, so I was like, ‘All right, here we go, gotta make the throw,’ and I did it, and they all just kind of ran up to the field and were like, ‘Oh my god!’ and all that stuff. So, they were more excited than I was I think.

BM: Playing it cool?

TB: Yeah, gotta play it cool.

BM: What was your personal reaction when it happened again?

TB: When it happened again, the only thing I was thinking was to hit my first baseman in the chest. I was wondering if it was going to be on SportsCenter Top 10 Plays again, and eventually it was, so that was pretty cool.

BM: What were the guys saying when it happened a second time?

TB: The second time, they were all making fun of me, but I just tried to rub it in their faces a little bit, especially my second baseman Josh Smith. I’m always messing around with him, saying I’m a better fielder than him, and now I definitely have the upper hand.

BM: Yeah, being on SportsCenter twice, and he’s yet to be on there!

TB: Exactly, exactly!

BM: I know they were both pretty similar plays, but did one of them feel more exciting for you? Was one of them harder? Or were they mostly the same?

TB: Honestly, I think the second one felt better for me because, first of all, the second ball was hit harder, so it just felt better when it hit my glove. Then, I just had a little bit of extra time to look down the hitter a little bit and just make sure he knew that I made the play and then threw it down to first.

BM: When you saw yourself on SportsCenter the first time, what was your reaction? That’s not something that happens to everybody.

TB: Actually, I never saw it on TV. I saw it through Twitter and people sending me videos of it, so it was kind of surreal, I guess. Then, the second time, I actually saw myself on TV, so that was even better.

BM: When you saw it on TV, did you know that you were going to be on there? Or were you just watching and it came up?

TB: I was hanging out with a bunch of my teammates, and one of my previous coaches texted me and said, ‘Hey, I just saw you on SportsCenter.’ And I thought he was talking about a few days before when it happened, and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, thanks, I appreciate it.’ And he said, ‘No, you’re on there again,’ and I was like, ‘No way.’ I was with a bunch of teammates, so we turned on a TV and we all watched it together.

BM: So, what was the reaction in the room when you all saw it?

TB: It was very exciting. Very energetic reaction.

BM: Being No. 7, that’s pretty impressive, but No. 3? That’s not bad at all.

TB: Yeah, definitely not mad about that.

BM: If you had to make another play that was going to be on SportsCenter, what would you want to do?

TB: I’d probably try to go between the legs next time. Instead of behind the back, I’d try to catch it between the legs. That’d probably look a little cooler.

BM: Has there been anyone in any of your practices trying to copy you and do the same play?

TB: Oh, yeah. Today at practice we were all trying to do it, and it was a lot harder to do in practice than in a game.

BM: Anything else you want to add? Any shout-outs?

TB: I would like if you could put in there about my second baseman—me being a better fielder.

Brawley is 4-1 on the season in 47 innings pitched across eight appearances with a 4.60 earned run average for the 21-15 Lakers.