Brennan Tyznar is a 6-2, left-handed pitcher who currently plays for Randolph-Macon College in Virginia. He had his season cut short. No player is ever fully prepared for that and honestly, unless you’ve played for a team that you put your heart and soul into, it’s hard to understand what he was going through when he heard the news.
“We were kind of prepared for it but honestly you didn’t know how you were going to feel until it happens. We played our last game on a Thursday and our coach (Ray Hedrick) sat us down on Wednesday. We had a meeting and he said we don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing is promised. Play every game like it’s your last,” Tyznar recalled. “We kind of knew but at first to hear that it’s kind of shocking. It hits you pretty hard, especially because we were doing so well. It was really sad at first.”
I can’t blame the NCAA for how things unfolded. It was a very fluid situation considering no team had faced a pandemic in a very long time and if they did, they would have to look back at older records to see how they reacted back in 1918.
“The way we found out was right after the game. We got the email afterward. We heard a lot of schools were canceling their seasons, and we were nervous. During the game, one of the trainers told us the school was going to close but the athletes could stay. So, we were really excited,” Tyznar said. “Right atter the game ended coach got a call that the NCAA canceled it. He had a meeting right after the game, which we don’t usually do, and he told us. We were shocked but it ripped the band-aid right off because we all thought we were staying. The NCAA overrode the school’s decision.”
His baseball team was in the midst of a special season and that made what happened even harder to swallow at first.
“Coming off 15-1, you can’t come off any stronger. We had 15 seniors among 50 something players so a lot of them played. I think it will make us a lot hungrier because we didn’t play a full season. Especially for me. I technically never played a full season of college baseball. At the same time the new freshman coming in and the new players we are all going to have that bond. Let’s do this. Let’s push through this. We know we can achieve that high level. We all know we are going to be lucky to know we can play more than 15 or 16 games because of what happened last year. We will be grateful for every game we have.”
One day the young pitcher woke up, so he said, and they were ranked second in the nation.
“It felt awesome. When the polls would come out midnight on Tuesday. I’m asleep by then,” he said, knowing his family would read this. “I was actually asleep. I was doing a good job of going to bed early. I can’t say that during the fall but I can say that during the season. It’s really exciting. As a freshman, you are seeing that you are the number two team in the nation. D-3 or D-1, number two is number two, out of how many teams there are in the nation.
“We found this out during all the school closings so it kind of made you forget about that. We expected this and we deserved it and we wanted to keep pushing until we get to number one.”
Being a lefty pitcher, he has a lot of natural gifts that come with the territory.
“I have natural lefty stuff, a natural tail, nothing crazy. I am a low 80’s guy but that’s not what defines me. The miles per hour changes. I’m a contact pitcher. Some games my fastball will be good and sometimes it will be secondary to a curve,” said Tyznar. “The curveball is my go-to, to lefties or righties, I can get a slurve going a bit, even though I really like my changeup. I’m never hesitant to pitch backward to a lot of batters, that’s kind of my thing. When I feel my best, I can throw any pitch on any count.”
Having tried out for a semi-pro team once, as an infielder, I noticed I had to work a little harder than the pitchers did.
“I’ve not gotten clocked in the 60-yard dash since I was 14. Now it’s like, you’re a pitcher you don’t need to do it. I’m sure I’m a little faster now,” Tyznar laughed. “That sounds about right. It’s funny. Going through showcase ball I knew I was going to college for pitching and not hitting, it’s always a joke like you’re the pitcher. In showcase camps, the fielders are doing one thing and the pitcher, as long as you threw well in the game, that’s all they cared about. They just look at your intrasquad game and not a lot else. A fielder does all these drills. We’re just on the mound.”
Watching him throw, I saw a little Tom Glavine in his delivery. I’m not comparing him to a Hall of Famer, to make that clear.
“I’m not sure. Someone used to tell me, Glavine. I’m a Mets fan,” Tyznar admitted. “A little bit of (Steven) Matz, I don’t look at my motion that much.”
When I told him “Matz has more arm whip”, he responded with “yeah, yeah”, as if he’s heard that before. But a mark of a good athlete is to take comparisons, criticisms, and compliments in stride and he does that like a pro.
I’m confident he will have a next season, as will all college athletes. When that starts and what that will look like is anybody’s best guess at this point. The COVID-19 virus is dictating that.