As I write this column Greenbrier is preparing for their semifinal best-of-three series with Etowah. They are doing so in part because of the pitching of sophomore lefty Nolan Belcher.
You see, Belcher started Game 1 of the series last Tuesday, throwing another complete-game shutout as the Pack won 2-0.
Unfortunately, Greenbrier threw away Game 2 by committing eight errors in a 7-5 loss. Keep in mind had it not been for those errors, Game 2 starter Brandon Cumpton also could have thrown a complete-game shutout or at least would have likely notched the win. The loss by the Pack set up a decisive Game 3 the next day (last Wednesday).
Now, I don't know about you, but I automatically assumed that Greenbrier's ace Nolan Belcher would be given the Game 3 assignment. That may be why, after Belcher slammed the door on North Forsyth with a dominating five innings of work (the game ended early due to the mercy rule) to take care of North Forsyth, I was shocked to hear some (mostly fans of other teams) complain that Greenbrier coach Ed Williams overworked Belcher.
To all of those complaining, I say, "Get a clue." There is no doubt that Ed Williams wants to win a state title.
Would you rather he didn't?
This said, Williams certainly would not jeopardize the health of one of his players in the process.
Williams served under legendary coach Terry Holder for a number of years.
Now, is anyone with any brains going to second-guess Terry Holder's baseball philosophy?
I didn't think so.
Coach Holder would have done the exact same thing.
How do I know? That's simple: He has done it as long as I can remember going all the way back to 1984-85 with now-former Georgia Tech star Joe Wise.
For those that may not remember, Wise once started both games of a double-header. Also, let's not forget about guys like Ashley Schoates, Chris Hall, Grady Blanchard and Mark Smith - all of whom were star pitchers for Holder who at some time in their career were asked to work extra duty in this way.
Heck, Hall pitched 10 innings in one game vs. Sprayberry as Evans captured the 1993 state title. By the way, Sprayberry's pitcher did the exact same thing. His name was Kris Benson (now a Baltimore Orioles All-Star), and boy did it kill his career: He is being paid only $8.3 million this season.
I was shocked to hear North Forsyth's coach Jim Cahill say he thought "the health of a player was more important than a playoff game" and that "he'd never do it" when asked about pitching a player on back-to-back days. To this I have three responses:
- First, the Georgia High School Association set these rules. This group does not set guidelines without studying their options very closely. Is he really saying that the GHSA does not care if kids get hurt?
- Also, Cahill's Game 1 starter, Mike Shaw, threw nearly 140 pitches himself. Is it worse to throw 138 pitches in one game, or 178 over the course of two?
- Finally, to say anything after that game other than "congrats to Greenbrier" is teaching his team a terrible lesson: When you lose it is OK to whine and look for excuses.
Even two of his own players (Taylor Adkins and Nick Huff) sought out Belcher to show their admiration following their loss. It is a shame that Cahill could not have simply done the same thing.
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