College Baseball: Brink moving on despite conclusion to career
COVID-19 was about the only thing slowing Mac Brink down.
The Brainerd High School graduate was leading the University of Minnesota, Morris Cougars with a .421 batting average. Brink was 8-of-19 with two doubles, four RBIs, three runs scored and a 1.026 OPS.
Brink, a senior outfielder, also pitched three innings for the Cougars who finished a Houston, Texas road trip with a 1-4 record under first-year head coach Matt O’Brien.
“I was feeling really good,” Brink said. “This was probably one of the best years I felt. I felt really good going into that first tournament and I did pretty well. There was a lot of confidence from the coaching staff and the players. We were trying to do something that this program hadn’t really done. We had new coaches this year and we made a lot of progress this year and we were just hoping we could show it more.”
Morris opened with a 7-4 victory over the University of St. Thomas out of Texas before dropping the next four. Brink reached base safely in all five games.
Brink’s hot start earned him Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Baseball Player of the Week.
“The teams we were playing were really good,” Brink said. “A couple of games got away, but one of those teams we played beat (Minnesota’s) St. Thomas so knowing how good that program is, it just made us feel a lot better about ourselves. We felt pretty good going into the conference season. Obviously, it didn’t pan out, but we were feeling really really confident going into the season.”
The Cougars were scheduled to travel to Orlando, Fla., for the Russ Matt Invitational. The plan was to play 10 games starting March 16. The team never made it down there.
“It was really tough,” Brink said. “It wasn’t even for me, but there was one guy on our team that had Tommy John surgery. He was supposed to be out for the entire year, but two days before the season started he got OKed to play. He rehabbed his butt off. Just seeing the work that people who are around me put in, obviously, I had done a lot too, but knowing you’re never going to be able to show it again was tough.”
The biochemistry major is one of six seniors on the Cougars baseball team. Brink will not be using the extra-year of eligibility granted to him from the NCAA. Brink accepted a position to go to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. His main goal is to work in the pharmacology field.
“I could try to play there, but I don’t know if I’ll have the time with other commitments,” Brink said. “I don’t know if any of the seniors this year are able to stay. I was pretty much done this fall, but I came back this spring to play baseball.
“I loved that campus. I loved the class sizes. Once I started to get into my upper-level science classes it was six to seven people in each class. You were one-on-one with the professor. I got to go right into doing research with them. I loved it. The people I played baseball with were awesome.”
One of those teammates was Pillager High School graduate Josh Doss. The sophomore infielder and pitcher was hitting .286 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored.
In three innings pitched, he allowed two hits and one run. He struck out one.
“This is tough on us,” Brink said about not being able to play when it’s prime baseball season. “Just staying motivated is tough. Obviously, I want to stay in shape and stuff, but getting that motivation to continue to do stuff for your physical health is tough without that driving force.”
Brink hopes to carry his hot bat into the Victory League season with the Fort Ripley Rebels.
“It just feels like you lost something you can never get back,” Brink said. “You can never get your senior year back, but everyone is making sacrifices at this time and this is what we’re sacrificing.”
School: University of Minnesota, Morris
Position: Outfield, pitcher
High school: Brainerd
Parents: Terry and Jane Brink