Belcher leads nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio
Despite an offensive explosion in the first inning of Friday’s 6-4 win over Texas A&M, coach Chad Holbrook was far from complimentary about South Carolina’s performance on the day.
“As happy as I am that we won the game, I was very disappointed in some of the things we did,” Holbrook said. “We’ve got to play better as a group than we did in the last 8 2/3 innings.”
The biggest point of contention with Holbrook was sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner’s decision not to slide into home after running through his third base coach’s stop sign. The catcher was tagged out at the plate, a play that ended USC’s five-run inning and jettisoned Greiner straight into Holbrook’s dog house.
“I never want one of my teams to not slide at home plate. I never want that,” Holbrook said. “It just infuriated me, and it about cost us the game.”
Holbrook was hung up on the issue long after the final out of the game, devoting a sizable chunk of his postgame press conference to voicing his displeasure with his catcher’s inability to complete an “elementary school play.”
Holbrook went as far as to pledge a donation of one month’s salary to charity if any of his players failed to slide at home plate for the remainder of the season.
“If you would have told me before the game that we’d score five in the first, I’d be happy,” Holbrook said. “And we scored five in the first, and I’m as mad as I’ve ever been.”
Belcher’s dominant season: With one half of the season in the books for the Gamecocks, senior left-hander Nolan Belcher leads the NCAA in the strikeout–walk ratio category with an astounding 51 strikeouts to only one walk on the year.
“[Belcher] has been terrific,” Holbrook said. “If the season was over today he’s a first-team All American in my book.”
Before Belcher’s start Friday, the gap between him and second place in the strikeout–walk category was 27 percentage points. He did nothing to decrease that lead Friday, adding nine strikeouts and no walks in 8 1/3 innings of work.
Throughout Belcher’s incredible run, he has refused to accept too many accolades for his success. The lefty claims he would not even be aware of the statistic if it weren’t for Twitter and the newspapers.
“I just try to make good pitches, and if I walk a guy, I walk a guy,” Belcher said. “I don’t really care about the streak, and it’s going to come to an end eventually.”
Holbrook and his coaching staff have chosen to give Belcher his space during this stretch of success, citing the senior’s knowledge of the game as a reason for the work he’s done on the mound this year.
Holbrook also bestows some of the credit for Belcher’s monster senior year on his opportunity to learn from former Gamecock pitcher Michael Roth throughout his career. According to Holbrook, both pitchers have tremendous confidence in their abilities and trust in the defense behind them.
“[Belcher] knows what baseball’s all about,” Holbrook said. “He knows how to play the game.”