Posted: Sunday June 24, 2012 7:15 PM

Arizona's Mejias-Brean is glad he gave up football

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Seth Mejias-Brean's original plan had him playing football and baseball at San Diego State.

Arizona's star third baseman is just fine with how things turned out.

"I have a great appreciation that we're here and we get to compete for the national championship and have a chance to bring it back home,'' said Mejias-Brean, who grew up in Tucson, Ariz. "To be a local guy, that's a big thing for me, to have my whole family watching me.''

Mejias-Brean was an all-state quarterback for Cienega High School, where he completed better than 60 percent of his passes for 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior in 2008.

He asked San Diego State's football staff if he could get a shot at quarterback and was told no. That also scuttled his plan to play baseball for the Aztecs.

Mejias-Brean's backup plan was to enroll at Pima Community College in Tucson to play baseball. A couple days before school was to start at Arizona, Wildcats coach Andy Lopez called to offer him a baseball scholarship. Lopez knew about Mejias-Brean because he played Legion ball with his son, David.

"I told him I had to think about it,'' Mejias-Brean said. "I don't know why I had to think about it - University of Arizona or Pima?''

Once it sunk in that he had an opportunity to play for his hometown Pac-12 school, it was a no-brainer.

Mejias-Brean attended orientation at Arizona the next day and has been the Wildcats' starting third baseman for three years. He made the All-Pac 12 team this season and was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth round of this year's draft.

Baseball is his first love, but he remains confident in his football skills.

"I can throw the ball pretty well. I can still throw it 70 yards in the air,'' he said. "I believe I could have played Division I football.''

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MILITARY NIGHT: Army Capt. Will Lyles, a former baseball player at Virginia Military Academy, was honored before Sunday's game.

Lyles served two tours of duty in Iraq and as a special forces team leader in Afghanistan.

Lyles was wounded when he stepped on an improvised explosive device during a firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan. His wounds required more than 30 surgeries and led to two above-the-knee amputations.

"Capt. Lyles represents the sacrifices that our military and their families make on a daily basis to protect our freedoms,'' said Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president of baseball and football. "But even more, Capt. Lyles represents the courage, perseverance and desire to succeed, which should serve as inspiration to student-athletes and Americans everywhere.''

Navy Commander John Lindsey and Navy Capt. Michael McCarten joined Lyles on the field. Lindsey was part of the resuscitation team caring for Lyles, and McCarten was the commanding officer of the NATO Trauma Hospital in Kandahar. Both promised Lyles they would bring him to the CWS one day.

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YOUTH IS SERVED: If it weren't for major contributions from freshmen, South Carolina might not be playing for another national championship.

Shortstop Joey Pankake, left fielder Tanner English and catcher Grayson Greiner made the All-SEC freshman team, pitcher Jordan Montgomery was on the all-regional team and honored as a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball, and Connor Bright has been used as a designated hitter.

The young players went through growing pains early in the season.

"I think there's an initiation you have to go through,'' coach Ray Tanner said.

Senior pitcher Michael Roth said he joked with Tanner about the first-year players' growth after the Gamecocks clinched their bracket with a win over Arkansas on Friday.

"I did say to coach Tanner, `Can you believe we're in a position to defend our title with these knucklehead freshmen we have?''' Roth said. "We were kind of laughing about that.''

 
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