STANDISH – You get 30 minutes to enjoy victory and 30 minutes to disect defeat if you play baseball for St. Joseph’s College. It’s a house rule that’s meant to keep players’ feet on the ground and heads up. An unwritten, universal rule found in most locker rooms.

Dan Brown and about six of his St. Joseph’s teammates broke it repeatedly Sunday night.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” said Brown, more than 48 hours after his two-out, two-strike, pinch-hit double in the ninth inning drove in the run that beat rival Suffolk University.

It gave St. Joseph’s the Great Northeast Athletic Conference title and an invitation to the NCAA Division III regional playoffs. Brown and his teammates replayed the game highlights from the school’s Internet broadcast in their campus dorm. Again and again.

He woke up Monday morning to a flurry of text messages congratulating him. One was from a fourth-grade teacher.

Brown didn’t say how many times he replayed that at-bat in his mind. It’s all pretty neat, even as Brown comes right back at me with phrases like keeping one game in its proper perspective.

How’s this for perspective: Brown sat on Coach Will Sanborn’s bench for more than a week. A junior third baseman, he worked hard to crack the starting lineup only to lose his job to a freshman with a hotter bat. Brown wasn’t even high on Sanborn’s game-day list of available pinch hitters.

At Deering High he was a three-year starter for Mike D’Andrea. He helped Deering win two state titles. In the summer he played for D’Andrea on the successful Nova Seafood American Legion teams.

This spring Brown was assigned a new duty. Climb into the bleachers to sell 50-50 raffle tickets and help fund team expenses. He and injured catcher Jon Dahms did their best.

“I don’t know if I could have done that,” said Todd Keneborus, one of St. Joseph’s leading hitters and a close friend. “That’s Brownie. He never sulked. You never heard him say Coach should put him back in. He’ll do anything for his teammates. If you’re struggling, he’s the guy who’ll pick you up.”

Who picks up Brown? Keneborus thought for a moment.

“Brownie can pick himself up, but he knows he has the whole team behind him.”

Sanborn, who got his 500th victory Sunday, coaches with his head, which doesn’t mean he ignores his heart.

He had used a pinch runner for Alex Markakis, the freshman who took Brown’s job. Now, in the ninth, he wanted a fresh bat at the plate. Even if Brown had been in the press box an inning or two before, counting and sorting the money he and Dahms collected from the largest home crowd of the season.

“I have a routine. Big bills we give to the winner. We need the smaller bills to make change the next time. I pick a winner, then I’ve got to rip up the other tickets.”

He returned to the dugout and was working to get his mind back into the game when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

He turned to see assistant coach Corey McCarthy standing over him.

“Take some hacks,” said McCarthy. “Get loose.”

Brown’s heart beat harder. “Great. I’m always looking for my opportunity, but I had to bring myself down to earth. I had to relax.”

From his spot in the third-base coaching box, Sanborn was confident.

“It wasn’t Dan’s fault he was out of the lineup. (Markakis) was hitting so well, I had to find a place for him.”

Brown is a contact hitter. At Deering he struck out just five times in 54 at-bats in his senior year. He’s faced tougher pitching in college, of course, but he knows how to get his bat on the ball.

In the dugout, Keneborus watched his friend at the plate. Alex Torres, the best starting pitcher in the conference, had come in to close the game for Suffolk.

“I had faith in him,” said Keneborus. “He flailed at a slider. He didn’t look good. Then he got a pitch to hit.”

Brown knew he hit it well but didn’t know if it was catchable. He pulled into second and let out a sigh of relief. The winning run was home. In this game, St. Joseph’s was the visitor so his teammates couldn’t run onto the field to swarm over him. That was OK. Brown saw their jubilation. He will never forget that moment.

Behind third base, Sanborn said he felt like Shakespeare, writing a script. Afterward he spoke to his newest hero alone. Thanks, Coach, said Brown. Thanks for the chance.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

[email protected]