The Daily Gamecock

After college career of trials, Belcher looks for Super Regional win

Redshirt senior has faced injury, bad play from teammates

For Nolan Belcher, it was a familiar experience.

Once again, the senior pitcher got little help in a start and wound up without the result he had hoped for, as the Gamecocks dropped a 6-5 decision to North Carolina on Saturday afternoon.

Belcher gave up just three earned runs, but errors by the Gamecocks in the first and third innings, both with two outs, gave the Tar Heels two extra runs and sent Belcher to the dugout after only five innings of work.

Considering the numbers he has put up this season, Belcher’s record of 7-5 is appalling. The Augusta, Ga., native has struck out a team-leading 95 batters and has issued just 16 walks on the year, despite throwing 117 innings this season.

The Gamecocks have not played their best baseball when Belcher is on the hill. In his last four starts, USC has scored just 14 runs in innings where he has been the pitcher. Additionally, the Gamecock defense has made six errors in Belcher’s last three outings. Only one pitcher on USC’s roster, Colby Holmes, has given up more unearned runs than Belcher this year.

Before the Super Regionals, only 11 pitchers in the country had thrown over 100 innings and allowed fewer walks than Nolan Belcher. Coming into the weekend, his strikeout-to-walk ratio ranked 14th in the nation and he had thrown more innings than all but two of the players ranked ahead of him. He leads South Carolina’s pitching staff in strikeouts and has 35 more than closer Tyler Webb, who is second on the team. He has given up just five home runs all season long and has thrown the only two complete games for South Carolina this season.

Belcher, who is in his fifth year at USC due to injuries, has blossomed from a pitcher fighting to be a mid-week starter to a Friday-night ace in one of college baseball’s toughest conferences. He hurled a shutout of Clemson in March and was promoted from the Sunday starter to the Friday spot in April after an injury to Jordan Montgomery forced the Gamecocks to shuffle their rotation. In seven SEC-series opening starts this year, Belcher allowed 44 hits and just 15 earned runs.

However, USC was just 3-4 in those seven contests. Three times in those seven games, the Gamecocks scored only two runs.

After his complete game shutout of Clemson, USC head coach Chad Holbrook stated that no one deserved that type of performance more than Nolan Belcher. Arguably, no one on South Carolina’s roster has gone through more in his Gamecock career than the 5’8” southpaw. Belcher made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2009, but was used primarily against non-conference opponents in 2010. He missed USC’s entire 2011 national championship campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery and taking a medical redshirt. As a junior in 2011, he appeared in just 19 games. Now, he is a captain and a starting pitcher on a Super Regional team.

No one deserves a better ending to their career than Nolan Belcher

He can only hope that his teammates give him one more chance.


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