The Daily Aztec
It’s an early October day at Tony Gwynn Stadium and Bryan Crabb is scheduled to pitch without a net in front of him. He’s facing live batters for the first time since his injury and he’s nervous.
He toes the rubber, spins the baseball’s seams through his fingertips, rears back and fires a fastball. It darts out of his hands, spinning at 90 mph toward his catcher’s mitt, when it suddenly takes a turn.
The ball hangs over home plate right in the sweet spot.
Crabb freezes. Tenses up. Braces himself. Not again, he thinks.
His mind races back to last May.
It was a chilly day in Provo, Utah. The San Diego State baseball team had lost the night before to BYU, and on this Saturday evening, Crabb was supposed to be the stopper.
He had struggled in his last few outings. He gave up five earned runs in less than four innings the week before to Air Force and gave up seven earned runs in less than four innings the week before that to New Mexico.
But against the Cougars on Larry H. Miller Field, things were supposed to be different. His dad, Gregg Crabb, had finally flown out to see him pitch during a game on the road, and this was when he was supposed to impress him.
“We were really hoping that this was the game where he was going to break out and do a great job,” his dad said.
In the first inning, Bryan Crabb couldn’t buy an out. He walked the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles. He gave up a run, and then another, before he was finally able to get out of the inning.
At the top of the second, he looked settled. He got BYU third baseman Austin Hall to foul out quickly.
But against the next batter, things went terribly wrong for the SDSU freshman.
He threw two straight balls to BYU second baseman Dane Nielsen, and he needed a strike. So he toed the rubber, spun the baseball’s seams through his fingertips, reared back and fired a 90 mph fastball toward his catcher’s mitt.
The ball darted out of his hands and spun toward the heart of home plate.
“Sometimes when I know it’s going to get hit, I brace myself just in case it comes back to me,” Bryan Crabb said. “So I started to bring my glove up as soon as I saw that it was coming back over the plate and I just couldn’t react in time.”
The white blur smacked off Nielsen’s bat and made a beeline straight for his head.
“Sitting in the stands, it’s just kind of surreal thinking back to it,” his dad said.
Bryan Crabb tensed up, turned his head and felt the baseball’s leather pound off the back of his skull.
He went down. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t hear. He was bleeding from his ear.
“It was the loudest ringing noise, like the loudest ringing noise you could think of. And I couldn’t see anything,” he said. “It was like when a bomb goes off next to somebody in a movie and there’s just ringing. That’s exactly what it was like. I saw figures, but I couldn’t make out who they were.”
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