TUCSON, Ariz. – Seth Mejias-Brean isn’t sure where he’d be right now had it not for good fortune and good fortitude.
You might as well add clutch hitting and slick fielding.
He clearly wouldn’t be playing in the College World Series with the University of Arizona, which faces Florida State on Friday afternoon in Omaha, Neb. Maybe he’d be long done with his season at a place like the University of Utah. Maybe somewhere else. Who knows?
All Arizona coach Andy Lopez knows is he’s grateful to have Mejias-Brean, a determined and gritty athlete who has done well for the Wildcats and for himself in his three years.
“Thankfully, we got him to come,’’ Lopez said.
It’s not like Mejias-Brean didn’t want to be at Arizona, but circumstances seemed stacked against that probability. A three-sport star (football, basketball, baseball) at Vail Cienega High School, He committed to San Diego State to play quarterback, and Arizona baseball staff backed off in his recruitment. When Mejias-Brean changed his mind and decided his future was in baseball, Pima College seemed the likely destination, with the hope of going somewhere later.
He spent the summer playing baseball on team with Lopez’s son, David.
“That was essentially my tryout,’’ Mejias-Brean said.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, we gotta get this guy,’ ” Lopez said. “And thinking, ‘Man, we missed,’ we didn’t have any (scholarship) money.’’
Summer came and went, and just before school was to start at UA, recruit Matt Helm signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and UA had a scholarship.
“I called Dave (Lopez) and told him to give me his phone number,’’ Lopez said.
The two talked, but Mejias-Brean was a little hesitant because school was to start and he was all but ready to go to Pima.
But Lopez met with Mejias-Brean and his parents right in front of McKale Center and convinced him to come to Arizona.
The rest is history.
Mejias-Brean became a starter as a freshman, part of a difference-making class that includes Kurt Heyer, Joey Rickerd, Alex Mejia and Robert Refsnyder.
Mejias-Brean into Friday’s first-round World Series game against Florida State hitting .366. He’s started all 60 games for UA, is second on the team in RBI with 57 while playing rock-solid defense at third base.
It’s not a shock to Lopez, who first saw Mejias-Brean competing on the high school football field, then on the basketball court and later on the baseball diamond.
“I’d go to the games to see my daughter on the pom line and see this guy named Mejias-Brean and say to myself, ‘What a great athlete,’ ” Lopez said. “We call him ‘Tebow.’ “
Tebow, er, Mejias-Brean was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth round of last week’s draft. Pro baseball appears to be the next step in a roundabout journey.
“I’ve always wanted to come here,’’ Mejias-Brean said.
“My mom always tells me that things happen for a reason,’’ he said. “And it’s true. My favorite number has always been No. 5. And I got it. It’s just weird how things happen.’’