Buhach Colony baseball alum Mooneyham recovers, throwing well for No. 1 Stanford

sjansen@mercedsun-star.comMarch 2, 2012 

Brett Mooneyham doesn't have much to complain about these days.

The former Buhach Colony star is in the final stretch of obtaining his history degree at Stanford.

In November, he married his high school sweetheart, Ashley.

If that wasn't enough, he's also playing on a Cardinal baseball team currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.

In a couple months, he'll likely be a high pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

Yeah, you can say life is pretty good.

"I'm really happy. I'm blessed to have all these things in play at this young of age. I turned 22 about a month ago and I'm lucky to be with the person I want to spend the rest of my life," Mooneyham said. "I'm going to be finished with my degree at the end of the quarter. I get to be a part of this team. I can say I'm really thankful."

The 6-foot-5 left-hander will get a chance to pitch in front of family and friends this weekend when Stanford travels to Fresno State for a three-game series.

Mooneyham will take the mound in the second game of the series on

Saturday night at Beiden Field.

The game is scheduled to start at 6.

"I've got a lot of family who have told me they already have their tickets," said Mooneyham, who graduated from Buhach in 2008. "I'm excited to see all of them. Hopefully, I can put on a show on Saturday night."

Armed with a fastball that routinely lights up radar guns over 90 mph, Mooneyham is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Vanderbilt and Texas. He has a 2.57 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.

"It's never been a question of stuff with Brett, it's command," Stanford pitching coach Rusty Filter said. "His batting average against has always been low. He's never been easy to hit.

"I think it started to click for him halfway through his sophomore year. At the end of his sophomore year he was one of the best pitchers in the country."

Mooneyham was primed for a big season last year. He had spent the previous summer playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League before joining the USA Collegiate National Team.

That's when he went to open a can of black beans for lunch.

Mooneyham was using a can opener that had seen better days.

"I got about 60 percent of the can open and I was done with the opener," he said.

Mooneyham tried to open the can with his hands by pulling the top back. He ended up cutting his left middle finger in the process.

"When they cleaned it and stitched it up they thought everything looked good that day," Mooneyham said. "I should have got an MRI."

Mooneyham believes he partially tore a tendon in his finger. Just a few weeks later, after the cut had healed, Mooneyham threw a bullpen session.

"Halfway through my finger starting hurting a lot," he said. "Every fastball I threw was painful. I finished with all change-ups. My middle finger was swollen and there was this burning feeling.

"That night, I couldn't move my middle or top knuckle on my middle finger. I knew something was wrong."

He had ruptured a tendon in his finger.

Mooneyham had surgery a couple days later and missed the season.

"It was tough," Mooneyham said. "Baseball is obviously one of the most important parts of my life. When it was taken away for a full season, it was hard to deal with."

Mooneyham slowly worked his way back.

He started by lobbing tennis balls three months after surgery. A month later, he began playing catch with his dad from 40 feet.

He was finally able to go all out on the mound last September.

"It was a trying time for him," Filter said. "We were a couple weeks out from the beginning of the season. He was coming off a great summer. We were excited for Brett.

"Then he had to miss all of last year. But he's come back in really great shape. He's back where he needs to be."

Mooneyham has heard all kinds of jokes about his injury. His roommate gave Mooneyham and his wife an automatic can opener as a wedding gift.

The silver lining of the injury is Mooneyham is back at Stanford this year, playing with a team that has legitimate shot of going to Omaha and winning a national championship.

"There's a special feeling with this group," Mooneyham said. "It's the best team I've ever been on. I had a really good travel team when I was 12. My senior year at Buhach, we had a very good team.

"There's always something you can take away. For me, it was more of a life lesson. There are things in your life you take for granted every day."

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