It only seems appropriate at this point to start considering junior right-hander Andrew Beckwith’s place among the greatest pitchers in Coastal Carolina baseball history.
Because, without a doubt, that is the company he now keeps in Chanticleer lore.
Beckwith’s complete-game performance in a 2-1 win over Florida on Sunday night in the Chants’ first-ever College World Series game was the exclamation point on what has been so far a stellar three-year collegiate career.
“It’s got to be up there,” Coastal Carolina pitching coach Drew Thomas said of Beckwith’s place in program history. “The kid is just a winner. He came to us like that having the season he did at Blythewood two years in a row, and he wasn’t fazed when he came here. He wants to be good and he never stops being on that mission to want to be good.”
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Forget good, Beckwith has been outstanding for the Chants. The numbers say as much on their own.
It’s an incredible stage to walk out there your first time in a College World Series game and to pitch like that is unbelievable.
CCU baseball coach Gary Gilmore
After posting a 1.49 earned-run average as a freshman that presently ranks as the third-best single-season total in Coastal Carolina’s Division I era, he now also ranks fifth on that same list with his 2.02 ERA from this year. More to the point, though, he is the program’s career ERA leader (in the Division I era) as well with a 2.22 mark over 223 innings – a fraction ahead of Ryan Connolly’s 2.23 from 2010-13.
His performance Sunday night also improved his record to 13-1, which ties him for the program’s single-season wins mark with four other pitchers – most recently Anthony Meo in 2010.
And beyond all of that, the complete-game win over the Gators alone has to go down as the most significant pitching performance ever for Coastal Carolina. He allowed seven hits and no walks while striking out seven and retiring the last 10 batters he faced.
“It’s an incredible stage to walk out there your first time in a College World Series game and to pitch like that is unbelievable,” head coach Gary Gilmore said.
[He’s] got to be up there. The kid is just a winner. He came to us like that having the season he did at Blythewood two years in a row, and he wasn’t fazed when he came here. He wants to be good and he never stops being on that mission to want to be good.
CCU pitching coach Drew Thomas
Beckwith, who was named the 2016 Big South Pitcher of the Year and a second-team Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball All-American, has drawn heightened media interest throughout this postseason as more people take notice of his unique pitching style with his ability to go back and forth between throwing side-arm and over the top.
As if he hasn’t been deceptive enough to hitters, he revealed in the postgame news conference Sunday night that he added a new pitch – a curveball – to his repertoire for that game after keeping it limited to bullpen sessions most of the season.
“I’ve been throwing a cutter all year and I’ve been playing around with a curveball in the bullpen just because it helps me stay on top of my cutter,” he said. “So yeah, I had a 12-6 working [tonight].”
Gilmore laughed as he listened to that.
“He’s a unique young man, to be able to change arm angles and command the baseball the way he does and do the things he does,” he would say later. “We’ve had some true [submarine-style] guys, but we haven’t had guys be able to move from traditional slot to down below and everywhere in between and throw multiple pitches. He’s a unique guy.”
Gilmore also commented that Beckwith keeps proving him wrong. As much as he views him as an indispensable bullpen option – or would like to, at least – that hasn’t been a choice for the Chants this year with their starting pitching depth tested … and, well, with Beckwith pitching like an absolute ace.
“If he plays for Florida, he’d be an insane bullpen guy to come behind some of those arms. He’d wear some people out,” Gilmore said.
As a starter, he’s been pretty exhausting to opponents as well. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his seven starts since moving to that role regularly in late April – while bringing his best on the biggest stage.
Beckwith set a career-high with those nine innings Sunday and matched his high with seven strikeouts.
“Tonight was one for the books and I had a lot of fun,” he said.
Fortunately for the Chants, Beckwith still has another season of eligibility, but there’s no doubt that when he’s done his collegiate career will be one for the books as well.