Bryan Granger, seen here throwing a pitch in the 2011 CCS playoffs while pitching for San Benito, has become one of Cal Poly's best relievers.

Former San Benito High baseball standout Bryan Granger has described his experience the last month as, “Kind of being on Cloud Nine.”
It’s no wonder. The Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo junior is not only an integral part of a team that is ranked No. 3 in the nation in one of the four major college baseball polls—the Mustangs entered the week boasting a 38-9 record—but he’s enjoyed a rebirth in his pitching career in the process.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander was a starter in his first two years before becoming one of the team’s top relievers this season. The change was made over the off-season when Granger had to do some serious soul-searching after suffering through a tough stretch, when he was the team’s Sunday starter — for Cal Poly, that meant he was basically the team’s No. 2 starter — to having his 2013 season end prematurely after struggling mightily in the final three weeks of the regular season.
Three weeks before Cal Poly’s regular-season finale, Granger was replaced in the rotation and never saw the mound again as the Mustangs advanced to a regional playoff. Granger said he was completely healthy, so it was only natural for him to wonder what had gone wrong.
“Last year (my struggles at the end of the season) was more mechanical and getting out of rhythm,” said Granger, a 2011 San Benito graduate. “I just wasn’t able to figure it out toward the end, and things were spiraling down. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it really helped me grow up a lot and helped me decide what I wanted to do (for the rest of my pitching career).”
Since Granger has two very effective pitches — a two-seam fastball that regularly hits 90-92 mph to go along with a 79-82 mph slider to keep hitters off-balance — his future was in relief, since starters typically need at least three pitches to have a lasting career at the professional level.
Granger has flourished in his new role, compiling a 2.21 ERA while allowing just 17 hits in 20 innings and limiting batters to a .239 average. The Mustangs have used him as their top setup man to hold onto a lead for closers Reed Reilly and Taylor Chris. The key to Granger’s turnaround involved a decision to change his arm angle.
Last fall, Granger decided to drop his arm slot from a three-quarters slot to a low three-quarters, meaning now his delivery comes close to being side-armed.
Not only has the tweak improved his command, but it’s also given him more movement on his slider, which serves as a perfect change-up to his fastball.
“(Going from three-quarters to a low three-quarters delivery arm angle) makes it easier for me to throw the slider without losing too much velocity, but it also adds a lot of deception the hitter has to deal with,” Granger said. “I like the role and position I have now, and everything has turned out well.”
Of that, there is no doubt. The Mustangs, who set a single-season program record with 40 wins last season, are on pace to eclipse that mark this year. Entering the week they were 14-4 in the tough Big West Conference with eight games left in the regular season.
Cal Poly recently endured a rough patch in which it lost four straight games, but it still has visions of making its first-ever appearance in the College World Series.
“With the chemistry this team has and the way everyone is clicking, we’ve got a lot of confidence,” Granger said. “Playing here is awesome, and it’s just a great atmosphere every time we take the field.”
Granger has beefed up since his high school days, packing on 30 pounds from the start of his freshman year in college. The added bulk — mostly muscle — has helped him in a variety of ways.
“(Being bigger and stronger) has helped me a lot more conditioning-wise,” he said. “I’m able to throw a lot more pitches and not be as sore afterward, and it’s also helped me increase the velocity on my pitches.”
Granger had a storied high school career, throwing three — count ’em, three — no-hitters, including one in the Central Coast Section Division I playoff semifinals during his senior year.
Granger credits his father, Mike, for instilling in him the fundamentals of the game and, even more important, a willingness to focus and compete on every pitch. Mike played baseball at San Francisco State, and Bryan’s uncle, Dave, played at Cal.
“My dad taught me everything I know and was basically my coach until I entered college,” Granger said.
For the Grangers, baseball is a family affair. Granger has a younger brother, Brandon, who is a senior pitcher at San Benito. If Mike is attending a Cal Poly weekend home game to watch Bryan, then Sylvia, Granger’s mother, is here locally to watch Brandon.
Granger has another passion besides baseball — hunting. More specifically, deer hunting. Granger grew up hunting with his dad, usually at a ranch in Paicines. But once he entered high school, Granger started sharing his love for hunting with his friends, taking them backpacking to his favorite spots.
Whether it’s hunting big game or pitching for the No.3-ranked team in college baseball, Granger has been successful in hitting his target.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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