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U-Mary's Brooks living the dream playing for Larks in Bismarck

U-Mary's Brooks living the dream playing for Larks in Bismarck

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Andrew Brooks isn’t signing autographs just yet, but it may come to that if he keeps pitching like he did Monday night for the Larks.

So far, requests for his signature are just in jest.

Serving as an assistant baseball coach for the Bismarck Drillers youth baseball team alongside former University of Mary teammate Zack Martin, Brooks was beating requests off with a stick, sort of.

“The kids have been joking around, ‘get his autograph, get his autograph.’ I’m like, ‘you don’t want my autograph,’” Brooks said. “It’s pretty fun. They’re giving me a hard time.”

In his first ever Northwoods League outing for the Larks Monday, it was Brooks that was giving the Mandan Flickertails a hard time. The Missoula, Mont., product was the game’s winning pitcher after striking out all five batters he faced in a dominant relief pitching performance.

After his season with the Marauders was cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak, Brooks was simply happy to be back on the mound.

“We had high expectations for the season. It was tough to have it end like that,” Brooks said. “We had a really tight-knit team.

“It felt really good to be back playing in Bismarck. First outing since February. Not being on the mound for months and months, you’re not really sure how it would go, but it was fun.”

Brooks was expecting to pitch in the season opener.

Larks head coach Will Flynt, a former professional pitcher, is scripting who pitches on a given night through the first few weeks of the season to not overwork any arms and make sure everyone gets a shot. Brooks said learning from Flynt has been a blast.

“Will and all those guys have been super good. They really know their stuff,” he said.

Strikeouts are nothing new for Brooks.

During his three seasons for the Marauders, he’s fanned 59 batters in 53 1/3 innings. Featuring a mid- to upper-80s fastball and a slider, Brooks appears destined for the bullpen both in college and summer ball.

“After long outings, my arm wasn’t feeling the best and with my two-pitch mix, I feel like I’m probably best suited for relief,” he said. “I’m happy to do whatever they want me to do.”

He comes into the summer with a clean slate innings-wise.

“I don’t have a limit,” he said. “Last summer in the Expedition League it was different coming off a full college season. Coach (Tanner) Spencer  was all for Paxton Miller (Bismarck Bull Moose and U-Mary Marauder) and me to get a good amount of innings this summer to stay sharp. Otherwise we’d be going almost two years without pitching. Nobody wants that.”

For Brooks, ending up in Bismarck for college was never part of the plan despite having a direct tie to the university. His mother is originally from Harvey, N.D., and graduated from Mary in ‘1980-something.’

“My mom wanted me to go to a really good college and focus on my studies but I had no interest in going (to Mary),” said Brooks, who is studying sports management. “I took a visit and I really liked the coaches and the players. I liked the campus more than I thought I would and the money part worked out, so I ended up coming and I love it.”

Now, he’s living in a house in north Bismarck with three fellow U-Mary athletes and living the dream playing for the Larks.

“John Bollinger (Larks GM) called me up and asked if I wanted to get set up with a host family or in a hotel, but I’d already moved in and I like living in a house,” Brooks said. “The only part that’s sad is no free food from the host family, but that’s OK. I have no complaints.”

Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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