Former Greenbrier High School star Nolan Belcher continued his sizzling start to the 2013 season with another quality outing for South Carolina over the weekend.
Belcher worked 8⅓ innings, combining with reliever Tyler Webb on a five-hit shutout of Missouri. The Gamecocks improved to 17-2 on the season. Belcher allowed five hits, zero runs, struck out six and did not walk a batter. The tremendous effort ran his scoreless innings streak to 26⅓ (which is incredible for college baseball) and he has not walked a batter in his past 32 innings of work.
For the season, the lefty is now 4-1 in five starts with an era of 1.25. He has worked 36 innings, striking out 36 and walking only one. His 36:1 strike out-to-walk ratio is the best in the nation.
What a way for Belcher to be going out as a senior. I sure hope he continues to mow batters down for USC.
Belcher is not the only Columbia County pitching product who is getting the job done on the mound this season. Former Harlem star Derek Beasley, Lakeside’s Jeffrey Stoner and former Greenbrier standout Blake Ross all have had outstanding outings this season.
Beasley is among the national leaders in victories this year. The USC Aiken junior is 6-0 in seven starts on the season. He has worked 35 innings and has 42 strikeouts and a 3.60 ERA. He has helped the Pacers surge to No. 13 in the nation. USC Aiken is currently 20-5 overall and 9-3 in the very challenging Peach Belt Conference. He does have 20 walks, which is a concern. If he cuts down on the free passes, Beasley is capable of putting together one of the finest seasons in Pacer history.
Jeffrey Stoner has been outstanding from the moment he stepped foot on the campus at Francis Marion University. Now a junior, Stoner has appeared in seven games for the Patriots, making five starts. The powerful right-hander has 57 strikeouts in just 43.2 innings on the season. Stoner is currently 3-1 with an era of 2.89.
Blake Ross was more known for his bat when he led the county with nine homers during his senior campaign for the Wolfpack. However, he might have found a home on the mound in Charleston. The College of Charleston junior has been extremely stingy for opposing batters. He has appeared in six games and made one start for the Chanticleers. For the season, he has worked 11 innings, but has a stellar ERA of 0.82.
Event a success
Former Westside and Duke University star basketball player William Avery continues to bring basketball events to Columbia County. The former NBA first-round pick co-hosted the inaugural ABR Live Hoops Showcase this past weekend at Patriots Park. Avery partnered with ABR Live founder Chad Cook to put on the event, which offered unsigned high school basketball standouts a chance to play in front of college coaches and scouts.
ABR stands for Augusta Basketball Report and can be found on the web at www.augustabasketball.com. During the high school basketball season, Cook, Avery and the ABR staff covered prep basketball like it has never been covered in the area. If you went to a high school game this year, you likely saw someone in a blue ABR staff shirt shooting video or interviewing players and coaches. The amount and quality of the coverage was unbelievable, and was certainly well received by hoops fans in the Augusta area.
This past weekend, Avery and Cook invited players from all over Georgia and South Carolina to come in and showcase their talents for scouts at no charge. In all, 166 boys and 50 girls were on hand for an all-day basketball fest.
Just more than two dozen of the players on hand were from Columbia County schools, including county boys Player of the Year Reggie Reid. Reid, who suits up for the Southern Kings AAU team, was sensational in one of the day’s most-anticipated matchups as his team took on a squad comprised of players from Glenn Hills, Josey and Butler. Reid continually made nifty passes and showed off his much-improved outside shooting. He also soared through the air for a dunk during a three-minute span in which he scored seven points and made two tremendous passes for assists.
Being able to hold great events like this can only help Columbia County continue to improve and become more competitive with the rest of the area in basketball.