Brewer steps up to the plate

By Gus Bode

Daily Egyptian:To begin, how have you adjusted from leaving the outfield and playing third base this season?

Matt Brewer:It’s definitely been a big change because the last time I played infield was back in high school, especially with the competition being so much better in college. It’s been pretty rough. I’m still working on stuff.

DE:And has your approach changed since Grant Gerrard’s injury left him sidelined? Have you found yourself trying too hard to pick up the slack?

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MB:No more pressure than before. Everyone still has to do their jobs. When you come down to it, Grant was a huge part of our team, and now that he’s gone everyone has to step up more. There’s no room for error with him out. When your opportunity comes up, you have to do it.

DE:Also, what do you think of Chris McCulloch and Dean Cademartori stepping up their hitting since Gerrard’s injury?

MB:Yeah, Chris has really stepped up his game lately, especially Dean over the past few weeks. He’s now showing that he can hit. He’s showing everyone he can hit, not just us in the fall.

DE:You’ve also been bouncing around in the lineup lately. Has that been a tough adjustment, and do you wish you were back in the three-hole?

MB:No, I don’t really read anything into it. Different parts of the lineup don’t really bother me as long as I’m in there. I guess it’s all an ego thing, but it doesn’t really bother me. Wherever you are, you are.

DE:And with only two Missouri Valley Conference series left in the season, including a series against second-place Wichita State, how important is it to you to move up in the standings?

MB:Our goal is still to win the MVC no matter what. Taking two games or a sweep of any of the last two series would be huge. This is the biggest week of the year right now with Wichita in second.

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DE:Did being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll provide some extra motivation?

MB:Since I’ve been here, we’ve been right around fourth of fifth every year. Obviously, we know we’re a better team than that. We have to come out and basically play, showing people we aren’t a fifth-place team. We’re a first- or second-place team.

DE:Along with that, how tough is the level of play in the Valley?

MB:I think from the teams we’ve played, the Valley holds its own in pretty much every sport as far as I can tell. Baseball is no exception. I think from top to bottom, the Valley has great baseball no matter where you go.

DE:You and several of your teammates, including head coach Dan Callahan, are from the Springfield, Ill., area. Does that make things a bit more comfortable for you here?

MB:It’s nice to have conversations with somebody who knows where I’m from and we can talk about stuff like that. And P.J. [Finigan], I grew up with him, playing little league since I was 7, 8 years old. Coach Callahan knows where me and him are coming from, so it’s nice to have a head coach from your hometown.

DE:What kind of coach, would you say, is Callahan?

MB:He’s definitely a players’ coach. He can relate to players because he’s been through college and the pros, knows what it’s like to go through the ups and downs. What he relates to us helps us out.

DE:Is playing little league with Finigan and then playing on the same team in college kind of an interesting experience?

MB:Yeah, it’s kind of weird looking back at how young we were. We even went to a world series together when we were little kids. We went to Puerto Rico. To think to where we are now from where we were, it’s crazy.

DE:Finally, after falling a game short the past two seasons, how much do you want to take that elusive MVC Tournament Championship this year?

MB:We have a lot of motivation, especially after seeing football doing what they’ve been doing the past few years and basketball just continuing their success. We want to get that ring, too. We want to be the three big sports.

Reporter Gabe House can be reached at [email protected]

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