Iron Man’ Brehm leads Cal Poly with strength of steel

By Cyndi Gurrola

When Chris Brehm is up to bat, everyone knows.

He makes his way to the plate with the song “Iron Man” by Black
Sabbath playing on the loudspeaker before he begins his at-bats at
Scolinos Field.

“It pumps me up,” he said.

Brehm has proved just how pumped up he is this season, his first
at Cal Poly.

After Saturday’s four-game series with Cal State L.A., the
junior catcher and designated hitter for the baseball team leads
the Broncos with a .383 batting average and 35 RBIs to go along
with 14 doubles and a .579 slugging percentage.

Brehm was chosen as the California Collegiate Athletic
Association Player of the Week for the week of April 7-13 after he
had six doubles and hit a grand slam to lead the Broncos to a sweep
at home against Cal State Monterey Bay.

Just weeks into this season, Brehm moved up from No. 6 in the
batting order to No. 3 and has helped his team out of some
pickles.

“When we need a big hit, he’s getting it done,” said head coach
Mike Ashman.

Brehm has also been getting it done in the classroom, earning a
4.0 GPA after his first two quarters at Cal Poly.

Brehm’s current success hasn’t always been this fairy tale,
however. He faced a number of challenges and has had a long journey
to Cal Poly.

After graduating from Murrieta High School in 2004, Brehm went
to play for Division I West Point on a full baseball scholarship.
But after one season he was discharged for academic deficiency.

“It was a tough time in my life,” he said. “I learned from West
Point. I took so many valuable lessons from being there. It helped
me grow up.”

After facing embarrassment and disappointment, Brehm found peace
with the situation and moved on.

“At the Army there were different drafting rules, so in my mind
it became OK,” he said.

So Brehm focused on his goal of one day playing in the pros and
made a fresh start, joining the baseball team at Santa Ana
College.

But before the official season began, Brehm broke the hook of
the hamate bone in his hand and needed surgery. He was out for the
season.

Determined to play again, he redshirted that injured season and
fully recovered for the next.

Brehm thought things would start changing his second year at
Santa Ana, but instead he faced an even larger challenge: playing
time.

“There were a lot of frustrations last year,” said Brehm. “I
wasn’t playing as much, and things weren’t going my way. It was
tough.”

After finishing the season, Brehm knew he wanted to continue his
career and change the tone of his past three years. He turned to
one of his coaches at Santa Ana, Don Popovich, who helped him get
in contact with Ashman.

Brehm walked on to the team after practicing a few times during
the off season. He proved himself to the coaches and players, and
for the first time in three years, Brehm had a baseball home.

“This is the best decision I could’ve made. I finally got my
break,” he said. “This is a great group – there is no tension or
cliques. Everyone is happy.”

Although Brehm has been a solid contributor to the Broncos this
season, Cal Poly hasn’t been able to break out of the woes it has
seen in recent years.

The Broncos are 15-28 overall and are sitting in eighth place in
the CCAA with a 12-18 record after losing three out of four games
to Cal State L.A.

Brehm splits his time at catcher with teammate Andres
Fernandez.

“He is a great teammate. He’s a good athlete and is real
supportive,” said Fernandez. “Of course there is competition
[between us], but we both know whoever is back there will get the
job done.”

Brehm is looking forward to a solid finish to the season, with a
four-game home series with Cal State Stanislaus left on the
schedule.

Even more, Brehm looks forward to playing professionally.

“It’s been my dream since I was a kid to play in the pros,” he
said.

Brehm is confident Ashman will help him get in contact with
scouts next season.

“Overall, he is the type of guy you want in a program,” said
Ashman. “He is a great athlete that plays all the time.”

Iron Man

Christa Collins/Poly Post

Iron Man’ Brehm leads Cal Poly with strength of steel

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