Photo courtesy Elon Athletics
Often, it takes freshman athletes time before they make their presence felt on the field. Sometimes they’re redshirted or sometimes they simply must wait for their time to come.
But don’t tell Kyle Brnovich that.
The freshman pitcher on Elon University’s baseball team is already making an impact on a team that has suddenly found a need for better performances on the mound.
Though he had a relatively slow start to the season, Brnovich has arguably been the Phoenix's best starting pitcher. He currently leads the team with a 2.21 ERA and five wins while also holding opposing batters to a low .175 average.
His resume includes having already been named the CAA Pitcher of the Week twice, CAA Rookie of the Week and one of Collegiate Baseball’s National Players of the Week. He also recorded the most strikeouts of any Elon pitcher since 2007 when he fanned 15 batters against the College of William and Mary April 9.
Perhaps what makes Brnovich’s hot start so fascinating is the simple approach he took with him from Kings Ridge Christian School in Georgia.
“I went to small private school, so it
"I’m starting to realize that throwing strikes down and low here will make you successful too.”
And Brnovich threw a lot of strikes in high school: 135 to be exact in his senior year alone — giving him the most in Georgia. Now that he’s settled in, he said the zone he found in high school is coming back to him.
“It’s starting to feel more like high school again,” he said. “I’m starting to feel more at home. Trust the guys behind you and live low with my pitches. You’ll be fine.”
The freshman pitcher did experience some early growing pains, though. He gave up 11 runs between Longwood University, Clemson University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Massachusetts at the beginning of season.
Since then, he has only given up a combined five runs in six games of work.
“It was tough starting off,” he said. “I didn’t throw well in the beginning. The first start was not my best by any means and the second one was against a top-15 team.”
His biggest takeaway after settling in has been staying low with his pitches, a strategy he had used in high school that made him the 16th best prospect in Georgia.
“Really it's just you throw two to three pitches for strikes and you stay down with all your pitches and you’ll be fine,” he said. “Before every game, you have to know what is working and know what’s going to be your go to so that’s been a big thing for me.”
Head Coach Mike Kennedy spoke highly of Brnovich after the Phoenix dropped its series against the University of Delaware, a series in which Brnovich was responsible for the lone victory.
“He competes,” he said. “For a young guy, you don’t get many with his attitude and mentality that they think they can get everybody out. He really believes that. He has a breaking ball that is second-to-none. You can think you can get people out but if you don’t have good stuff it won’t work. But he’s got good stuff”
The learning curve that Brnovich was bound to see as a young pitcher came early in his career but it may have been the best thing that could have happened to him.
Kennedy pointed to how the early mistakes that Brnovich made contributed to how he is progressing as a player to potentially becoming the Phoenix number one guy in the near future.
A reality that feeds to Brnovich’s competitive side following two state titles that he holds on his belt.
“He doesn’t like giving up runs – he gets frustrated, he gets pissed off when he gives up runs. If you had more guys like that, boy you’d be pretty good on the mound.”