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Brocton star Bubba Brown stays close to home, commits to Fredonia State Blue Devils

Changing from green to blue

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Brocton pitcher Ronald “Bubba” Brown delivers a pitch earlier this year during the Class D Far West Regional baseball game between Brocton and Honeoye, at Dywer Stadium, in Batavia. Brown pitched a complete game with 18 strikeouts against Honeoye to lead Brocton back to the Class D State Final Four, in back-to-back seasons.

After long road trips to Binghamton to conclude each of the past two seasons as a Brocton Bulldog, ace pitcher Ronald “Bubba” Brown has decided to stay close to home at the next level. Brown decided to commit to SUNY Fredonia to play college baseball for the Fredonia Blue Devils beginning this fall.

“His success last year attracted me to him. Last year he showed he could be a winner,” said Fredonia Blue Devils baseball coach Matt Palisin of Brown. “The people around him I’ve talked to have said nothing but good things. … A kid like that is definitely going to benefit our program.”

Located less than a 20 minute drive from the SUNY Fredonia campus, Brocton’s program caught the attention of Palisin a year ago, when the Bulldogs made the program’s first trip to the NY State Final Four in Class D. Brown was the ace then, as he was this past season when the Bulldogs made the feat a trend with another appearance in 2019.

“It’s good to see a smaller school like Brocton have some success,” said Palisin, who believes that Brown is the first player from Brocton to commit to Fredonia during Palisin’s tenure.

“I followed their progress last season, and then he came to our Fredonia baseball camp in the fall and I got to know him a little better there,” said Palisin, who joked that every time he went to watch Brocton play, a pitcher other than Brown was on the mound. “Baseball in Chautauqua County is on an upswing,” he said.

Brown is a big reason why folks like Palisin believe Chautauqua County baseball is thriving. Of all the players in Chautauqua County, Brown received more attention than any other from media members and coaches across NY State. Brown, along with Jamestown pitcher Bryce Jackson, earned All-WNY Second Team honors in 2019. Brown was the only Class D player selected higher than Honorable Mention from Western NY. Brown also repeated as the winner of the CCAA Division 2 West baseball division’s Player of the Year.

Brown’s talent is certainly there — and Palisin knows it — but what stands out about Brown, above all else, is his competitive nature.

“He’s got the command,” said Palisin of Brown. “As a coach, I can teach a kid to throw a curveball. I can teach a kid to throw a changeup. … Bubba has the things you can’t teach. He has the velocity and the control, but aside from his athleticism, he’s a competitor. He’s a winner. It seems like he throws even better in big games.”

One of the people who spoke of Brown’s competitiveness to Palisin before Brown’s commitment was Brocton Bulldogs boys basketball coach Collin Mulcahy. A former Fredonia Blue Devils runner (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) in his college days from the fall of 2012 until the spring of 2017 through all three seasons, Mulcahy knows what it’s like to be a student athlete at Fredonia quite well.

“We chatted during the year about where he may get looked at, knowing from the start his main sport was baseball,” said Mulcahy of Brown. “I talked to him about what it’s like to be a student athlete at Fredonia and the things that are available to you to be successful.”

Mulcahy coached Brown in his first year as the varsity basketball coach at Brocton in the 2018-19 season — Brown was a co-captain of the team. Mulcahy has, in fact, known Brown much longer. Mulcahy, as a student teacher, had Brown as a student during Brown’s freshman year. Mulcahy praised how he has grown from a young, natural athlete into a strong leader. Mulcahy referred to Brown as one of the best leaders and athletes he has ever seen.

“Bubba competes hard 24/7, whether its in warmups in practice or in a big game. He’s a true competitor,” said Mulcahy. “He’s a leader by example. He’s exactly what you want a player to be, he always works hard and gives it his all.”

Mulcahy was far from the only coach impressed with Brown’s character.

“He’s such a focused kid. He’s not only a great ballplayer, he’s a great young man. He’s got a bright future ahead of him,” said Brocton Bulldogs varsity baseball coach Rob Fetterick of Brown after the Section VI, Class D championship game.

Fetterick spoke later on about how Brown was recognized as Brocton’s Player of the Game after the Sectional title game, but rather than accept the credit for his complete game shutout victory on the mound, Brown gave the credit to Riley Rivera instead, for driving in the game’s only run.

“You can’t say enough about him. He leads, every day at practice, by example. He talks more than I talk — and that’s tough to do,” said Fetterick of Brown after the Far West Regional game in Batavia this past season. “He’s been working his whole life for this and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Moving forward, the Blue Devils will be in search of a new ace on the mound next year — and it’s not out of the question that Brown could be that new number one guy. Fredonia’s outgoing star pitcher, Luke Kuczewski, began his college career in the starting rotation as a freshman.

“He’ll get some opportunities early in the year. What he earns is what he’ll get,” said Palisin of Brown’s prospects at Fredonia State. “With how hard he works, he’s going to be successful.”

Mulcahy believes by playing at a school like Fredonia, Brown will have the opportunity to show the next level exactly what he showed the NY State high school baseball scene over his time as a Bulldog.

“He has the tools and athleticism and ability to shine at Division III,” said Mulcahy of Brown. “Some people prioritize playing Division I, but there is nothing wrong with playing at Division III. For Bubba, I think the sky is the limit. … I’m very happy for him.”

When asked after the game what it meant to be the first Brocton pitcher to earn a win in a State Final Four baseball game, Brown said, “It means a lot. The community has been really supportive and they are always cheering me on. I’m going to go out there and do my best for my community.”

With Brown’s commitment to Fredonia, the Brocton fans now have four more years to watch their star, Ronald “Bubba” Brown, make their community proud. For anyone who has followed his career so far, it’s safe to assume that there will be many more prideful moments to come.

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