Hard work pays off for MarshPublished 7:49pm Thursday, July 5, 2012
YEATESVILLE — In baseball the positions are numbered from 1-9 with the order beginning with the pitcher. Coincidence? Perhaps, but ask any baseball manager what is the key to fielding a strong team and he will tell you it all begins an ends with pitching.
While there were plenty of No. 1 starters in Beaufort County, none where as effective as Brandon Marsh, who thanks to a mid-80s fastball and a revamped curveball compiled a minuscule 2.03 ERA and an 8-3 record en route to being named the Washington Daily News Pitcher of the Year.
“I think the season went really well,” Marsh said. “I was able to command some more of my pitches. I threw my curveball and changeup really well, but I also had a really good defense backing me up. Good defense makes a good pitcher.”
While Marsh credited the work of his teammates for his rise from a 6-8 record a year ago to an 8-3 record in 2012, his coach Keith Boyd attributed Marsh’s success to his work ethic.
“Brandon had a good offseason, he worked a lot over the summer with the different ball teams he plays for,” Boyd said. “He came in, in the fall and took weightlifting both semesters and got his bench up to 250 (pounds). He works at everything and makes himself the best that he can be and he’s done that for the last four years.”
Last season Marsh, who was a WDN All-Area first-teamer in 2011, boasted one of the best curveballs around but refused to rest on it. The senior routinely tweaked it until he sharpened the action on it. The effect of that, coupled with the added MPHs on his fastball from his workout regiment made for a stellar season in which he went 5-2 against quality Four Rivers Conference teams and helped the Panthers finish 14-11 and earn their first playoff victory in nearly a decade.
“Last year (the curve) used to be more of a slow, looping curveball but this year I got it more sharper and developed it into almost more of a slider. It breaks sharper and is a bit more of a faster pitch,” Marsh said. “I was able to get more swings and misses with it because it broke off faster.”
Boyd said the two pitches, along with Marsh’s accuracy, was the key to keeping hitters off balance.
“It’s setup by his fastball. He’s about 84-85 (MPH) and he spots the corners real well and keeps it down in the zone pretty well,” Boyd said. “He makes you honor the fastball but then he can also come back with that curveball. When you first look at it out of the hand it has that fastball look but then it just breaks. It’s really elusive.”
Boyd said being able to trot out a pitcher like Marsh on a regular basis greatly improved the Panthers’ odds of winning.
“Just because he was there didn’t mean you were going to automatically win but you felt like it gave you your best chance,” Boyd said. “With him on the mound it made our positions in the field the best they could be … Then, if he could give you five to eight strikeouts per game that’s just less times the ball is going to be put in play.”
Marsh is hoping to have the same effect next season as the graduated senior will be playing ball for Darlington-Tech Junior College in South Carolina.