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Resourceful Bruss befuddling batters for ACC

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 5:35 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 9, 2013 1:25 p.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Aurora Central Catholic High School pitcher Andrew Bruss of Batavia practices with his team Tuesday. Bruss and AC are aiming for a deep postseason run. Bruss is 6-2 this season and an ERA near 1.50.

AURORA – Some pitchers feel uncomfortable throwing four different types of pitches during games.

Aurora Central Catholic junior Andrew Bruss uncorks four different kinds of fastballs, let alone the rest of his repertoire.

Bruss, a Batavia resident, has used his crafty ways to go 6-2 so far this spring and help lead the Chargers to one of their best seasons in program history.

Bruss said he throws a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a cut fastball and a fastball with heavy sinking action. He also features three types of off-speed pitchers, including another offering that helps set him apart – a tricky knuckle-curveball.

“I kind of just started when I was little,” Bruss said. “I think my uncle tried to teach me how to throw a knuckleball, and I was so little I didn’t know how to throw it so I started throwing curveballs, and I’ve had a knuckle-curve ever since then. 

“Every single year it just gets better and better. That’s what nobody will seem to be able to hit, so I keep sticking with it.”

In addition to his six wins, the right-hander has an ERA of about 1.50 and has struck out 60 batters and walked 13 in 46 innings.

The Chargers have a bona fide ace in Matt Miller but Bruss is squarely in the mix to earn a postseason start next week when the Chargers (24-4) compete in the IHSA Class 2A Westminster Christian Regional.

“He mixes in a lot of different stuff,” first-year ACC coach Sean Bieterman said of Bruss. “When he settles in with his off-speed stuff early in a game, it makes him so effective. He commands his fastball so well that when he gets his secondary stuff over, he’s, in my opinion, one of the top pitchers in the area.”

Bruss was promoted to the varsity partway into his freshman year, and earned five of the Chargers’ 14 pitching wins as a sophomore despite missing some time with a broken wrist suffered while catching.

These days, Bruss primarily plays left field or is the designated batter while batting eighth in the lineup on days when he’s not pitching.

Bruss, who competes with the Schaumburg Seminoles travel program, has plenty of varsity experience, but he and his teammates have never tasted anything like the way this season is unfolding.

The school’s all-time wins record (31) remains within reach if ACC has a deep postseason run.

“It’s kind of insane to have so many wins this year,” Bruss said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

There have been few disappointments for ACC this spring, but the Chargers fell one game short of sharing the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Title. Chicago Christian (14-2 in conference) wrapped up that honor earlier this week.

“We can focus now on the tournament, and that to me is more important,” Bieterman said. “Conference championships are nice and you want to win them, for the kids there’s a lot of pride in that, but at the end of the day the goal is the state tournament.

“I’d much rather win a regional and a sectional than a conference championship. Maybe that’s different than some people but that’s how I feel, and that’s kind of what I think we’ve been gearing our guys to, is trying to make a run in the state tournament.”

Bruss said he is relishing the ACC experience, on and off the diamond – even if it bucks family tradition.

“I wanted to go to a smaller school, and I definitely wanted to be closer to home,” Bruss said. “My entire family went to St. Francis. I kind of wanted to go there but it was a little bit far of a drive and this is really a better environment, and the block scheduling here allowed me to take any classes I wanted to prep for college.”

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