IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Having a deep, unfailing love for baseball, Brad Margolin had every intention of being a two-way player at Washington University.
This gamer was game for anything — and everything — at the St. Louis school.
Pitcher. Catcher. (Or even outfielder).
Specialization was the last thing on his mind.
Well, it didn’t work out that way for the highly athletic Glenbrook North graduate.
The Bears’ coaches had a better idea four years ago. They pointed Margolin to the pitcher’s mound.
And the rest is … illustrious.
The hill was where he thrilled.
The senior right-hander was showered with honors this past spring. He was named to ABCA/Rawlings All-America Second Team. And he was D3baseball.com All-America honorable mention.
“It was a pretty fun ride,” said Margolin.
The bearded 5-foot-9, 200-pound hurler had a ridiculously outstanding stretch. Between March 16 and May 12, he threw six complete games, including three consecutive shutouts.
He finished the 2017 campaign with a 9-2 record and a 1.98 earned run average. He allowed only 56 hits and seven walks in 82 innings. His WHIP was 0.77.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t blow away hitters. Margolin’s velocity is modest at best: 83-85 miles per hour.
“For me, it was about paying attention to detail,” he said. “You don’t need to throw 95 [mph] to have success. Our coaches did a great job of scouting. And so, I went into every game with a plan, and I was able to execute it.
“Being a catcher [growing up], I understood both sides of the plate,” he added. “I was able to think through things.”
A big part of his artistry was his four-pitch arsenal: fastball, curve, slider and changeup.
“I was able to keep hitters off balance,” said Margolin.
And his size and stature?
“I used that to my advantage,” he said.
His high school coach, Dom Savino, had a feeling that Margolin’s smallish build wouldn’t matter. That it would not deter him at the next level.
“He was phenomenal for us,” said the Glenbrook North head coach. “A warrior. A winner. He’s athletic and ultra competitive.
“When he was with us, there was nothing he couldn’t do on a baseball field,” Savino added. “He’s everything you want in a baseball player. I’d take a kid with his mentality every day of the week.”
Margolin, who was named the UAA Co-Pitcher of the Year, also earned an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove. He committed one error in 32 chances and picked off seven runners.
“Getting the Gold Glove was incredibly cool,” said Margolin.
“And the pickoffs? We worked on that every single day,” he said. “It helped being a [former] catcher.”
His quick feet and short arm swing led to the seven pickoffs.
And he was an efficiency expert. Margolin made 48 appearances, including 27 starts, during is four-year stint with the Bears. In 237 innings pitched, he walked a grand total of 27 batters.
He simply didn’t give in to hitters.
Following a strong freshman season (3-1, 4 saves, 1.83 ERA) and a solid sophomore season (3-0, 1 save, 2.67 ERA), Margolin blossomed into something really special during the spring of 2016 (8-1, 90 hits, 101.2 IP, 2.74 ERA).
For his efforts, Margolin capped his junior year by being named the D3Baseball.com Central Region Pitcher of the Year.
The highlight of his junior season came in the NCAA Division III Regional at Sauget, Illinois, and home of the Gateway Grizzlies. That’s when he became Iron Man.
In an 8-0 win over Augustana in the regional opener, Margolin went the distance (9 innings, 120 pitches) and was simply masterful. He allowed four hits. He issued zero walks.
“Empty the tank,” said Margolin. “That’s what I tried to do every time I started a game.”
Two days later, in the title game against Wisconsin-Whitewater, Margolin turned into the ultimate team player by working six shutout innings out of the bullpen. His line included two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.
“I came out of the game after 80 pitches,” he said. “I was … exhausted. When I was finished, I couldn’t feel my legs.
“Coach came up to me after my last inning and said, ‘You’re coming out,’ ” Margolin added. “He got no argument from me.”
What he got was a tip of the hat.
“He threw great on short rest that day,” said Kyle Kozak, who caught him for three seasons at Washington. “What he did [200 pitches in two days] was unheard of.”
But looking back, Kozak wasn’t surprised.
“I don’t know if you this know this or not, but Brad’s nickname is ‘Horse’,” said the catcher. “He was our workhorse. He was the reliable guy. You could count on him to get the job done.”
UW-Whitewater ended up winning the game 9-8 in 14 innings. Two innings after Margolin was taken out of the game.
“He’s always had a great mound presence,” Savino said. “He epitomized the bulldog mentality.
“Competitive with a high character,” the coach added. “You put those two things together, and it doesn’t matter if you’re 5-9 or 6-4.”
Margolin ended up as one of the top pitchers in Washington’s history. His 23 career wins ranks fourth all-time. And he is in the top-10 in two other categories: sixth in innings pitched (237) and seventh in earned run average (2.39).
Margolin, who majored in psychology, also was named to the 2017 Jewish Sports Review All-America First Team along with three of his teammates: Ben Browdy, Zack Kotin and Jake Mintz.
Looking back, Margolin is pretty glad that he specialized and focused solely on pitching.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”