Jordan Brandenburg got every day of baseball he could out of his summer stint in the Last Frontier.
After a freshman season at Cañada College that saw the San Carlos native hit .333 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs, Brandenburg spent his first season of collegiate summer baseball with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots of the Alaska Baseball League.
A catcher by trade, Brandenburg spent the summer manning the outfield for the Glacier Pilots, who advanced to Game 3 of the Top of the World Series, the best-of-three championship series that saw the Anchorage Bucs prevail 7-1 in Tuesday’s postseason finale.
“It’s a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth losing the last game,” Brandenburg said. “But it was pretty cool how we lost the first game and came back and won the second game pretty easily.”
While Brandenburg hit just .232 during the regular season, the right-handed slugger was a big reason the Pilots advanced to Game 3. After dropping Game 1 to the Bucs 6-5 Sunday, the Pilots bounced back Monday for an 8-1 win in Game 2, with Brandenburg going 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Game 3 was a downer, sure — considering the only time Brandenburg got on base in the finale showdown was by getting plunked on the elbow by a 92 mph fastball from Bucs left-hander Evan Taylor — but he succeeded in making himself at home in Anchorage, acclimating to the biggest culture shock, the extended hours of daylight.
“It’s really weird,” Brandenburg said. “It’s kind of hard because you’ll wake up hang out, and then you’ll play a game and then afterward it feels like it’s 5 or 6 o’clock, but it’s really like midnight.”
With 12 players from the Pilots roster being selected to the ABL All-Star Game, Brandenberg earned a spot in the July classic on the National squad, which won 3-2, this despite a tough go of it at the plate, especially in the power department, totaling just one home run and two doubles through 30 games and 82 at-bats.
Brandenburg was the only player from a community college on the Pilots’ roster that included Stanford freshman Zach Sehgal, Fresno State freshmen Zach Morgan, Matt Ottino and EJ Andrews, and St. Mary’s freshman Daniel Mendez.
“I think I was doing pretty good,” Brandenburg said. “It’s just the pitchers up here are really, really good. A lot of the averages are pretty low, but I think I did pretty good my first time seeing real Division I pitching.”
Brandenburg made a nice impression on the Anchorage fans in the Pilots’ first home game, June 8, going 3 for 4 in a 5-2 win over the Peninsula Oilers.
“The fans were really into it,” Brandenburg said. “A bunch of hecklers. For the most part, the Pilots fans are a really big fan group, so there’s really good support from them.”
He went on to record four multi-hit games throughout the summer, including his two-hit performance in the teams Game 2 win in the Top of the World Series.
And while it wasn’t nearly a “Let Pablo Pitch” campaign, Brandenburg did get used as a pitcher in one game, and a win at that. It was a 9-0 victory over the Chugiak Chinooks, with Brandenburg firing two scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out two, to combine on the shutout in relief of seven scoreless frames from right-hander Matthew Sanchez (Cal State Fullerton).
Brandenburg returned home Thursday on a late flight. He returns for the first day of fall classes as a sophomore at Cañada next Friday, with fall ball practice for the Colts starting the following week.
The Pilots finished the regular season with a 26-18 record, good for third place in the five-team ABL standings.
“The team was really good, really close,” Brandenburg said. “A lot of good chemistry and we were a pretty good team on the field as well.”