A woman grabbed my arm as I was leaving Monday's game at Lake Olmstead Stadium and told me to be sure to write about the injustice she had just witnessed.
Greenbrier coach Rodney Holder robbed everybody here, she said. Nolan Belcher didn't pitch Monday. That was ridiculous.
Someone else diverted her attention, and I slipped away.
Holder's decision not to pitch his ace Belcher against North Augusta ace Marty Gantt was no doubt looked on poorly by more than just the woman at the game.
Area baseball fans knew since the end of last summer that the two teams would meet at the home of the Augusta GreenJackets on St. Patrick's Day, and most assumed Gantt and Belcher could be substituted for the team names on the schedule.
Greenbrier's Nolan Belcher vs. North Augusta's Marty Gantt, March 17, 6 p.m., Lake Olmstead Stadium.
But to hear Yellow Jackets coach Vic Radcliff tell it, the coaches agreed to pitch their respective aces only if the schedule allowed it.
Holder felt it better to pitch Belcher against Carrolton -- the 2007 Class AAA state semifinalists -- on March 15. The senior pitched a complete game in the 2-1 Greenbrier win. The Wolfpack needed Belcher then.
For a half-inning against North Augusta, it appeared the Wolfpack needed Belcher then, too. Turns out, they only needed someone other than Shane Nelson, whose sore arm gave up two runs in the first. The Yellow Jackets couldn't muster another run after Holder went to his bullpen.
Belcher pitches a complete game against stiff competition, Greenbrier wins a close one. Belcher rests his arm two days later, Wolfpack still wins. Some fans disappointed.
Holder could have worked his rotation so that Belcher would have been ripe for a duel with Gantt. The fans would have been happy, the Wolfpack would have a loss, and Belcher would have been used up for the start of region play this week.
The Wolfpack showed Holder they could beat a state championship-caliber team without a strong effort from his starter, which will be required come May.
The reasons to hold Belcher outweighed the one reason to start him.
In the future, if a similar marquee game is devised, it should be played before the season.
Lake Olmstead Stadium might not be available, but there are plenty of neutral recreational parks from which to choose.
Forget about admission. Surround a park with fans from each school and all the kids who'd be hanging around anyway.
The entire rotation would be at each coach's disposal.
There will be other opportunities for Belcher to perform on a big stage this season. The Wolfpack play Florida power Palatka at home on Saturday and will travel to Athens, Ga., on April 7 to play Marist, which Greenbrier bounced during the 2007 state semifinals.
Don't fault Holder for trying to win them all, even at the expense of fan enjoyment.
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