One of the hardest things to do in team sports is to win a double-elimination baseball tournament. The biggest reason for that is the pressure it puts on a team’s pitching staff.
Belmont responded to that challenge by leaning on a couple of well-worn arms to capture its second-straight Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship.
First Team All-Atlantic Sun pitcher Chase Brookshire started the title game after using 108 pitches to navigate his 7.2 innings of work against Stetson in Belmont’s tourney opener.
“I’ve been preparing for that on the last two days. All I’ve been thinking is ‘what do I have to do to be ready to throw on Saturday’. I’ve been very fortunate to get the chance to throw game one all year. I love being in that situation,” Brookshire said.
It looked like the preparation would only get the Bruins through a few innings initially. Kennesaw State put up two runs on four hits in the first three innings, but the southpaw found his groove long enough for the Belmont offense to get ramped up. By the time, the Owls scratched across their next runs, the Bruins claimed a four-run lead.
“Chase gave us a great performance,” said Matt Hamann. “After a rocky start, you could tell he had his good stuff and was going to give us a great opportunity tonight.”
Hamann would play a huge role in the game himself. After Garrett Fanchier held KSU scoreless in a 12-pitch seventh inning, the senior got the call to start the eighth. Kennesaw State managed a one-out double but the senior ended the threat with a pair of strikeouts.
“When Matt went out there on one day’s rest, he was so electric. We had Scotty Moses up ready to close the game out but we thought Matt deserved the chance to finish it. It was lights out after that,” reflected head coach Dave Jarvis.
Lights out was accurate as he set down the Owls in order to incite a dog-pile by the mound.
“When (Brookshire and Hamann) are on the mound, our team feels like good things are going to happen. They are going to throw strikes and pitch with a good tempo and pace to keep us in the game. When they are out there, it is almost always a good result for our kids,” reflected Jarvis.
And from the smiles on the faces of the team at the end, it looks like Jarvis was right.