In the postgame news conference Friday night senior left fielder Anthony Marks took it upon himself to put junior ace Andrew Beckwith’s evening, his week and his season in perspective for everybody who had just watched the Coastal Carolina right-hander throw his second complete-game of the College World Series.
“It’s pretty amazing, but honestly you guys are just seeing this this past week, but we’ve been watching him do this for three years now,” Marks said. “His numbers speak for themself. He’s, if not the best pitcher in the country, one of the best pitchers in the country.”
Beckwith, sitting next to his teammate, smiled and patted him on the back after the compliment.
And, really, it would be hard to argue with Marks’ point.
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After holding top-seeded Florida and now TCU to one run each in a pair of complete-game gems this week in the College World Series, Beckwith improved to 14-1 with a 1.94 earned-run average for the season.
That makes him the NCAA Division I leader in wins, the Chanticleers’ new record-holder for most wins in a season and he now ranks 18th nationally in ERA with only two pitchers ahead of him on that list having thrown more than his 111 1/3 innings.
“With our story and what he’s done, he’s on a level that we haven’t been on in this program,” Chants pitching coach Drew Thomas said.
In two games against the best competition in college baseball, Beckwith has gone 18 innings while allowing only two runs, one walk and 13 hits with 12 strikeouts.
I mean the whole narrative itself is unbelievable. So to say any of this was possible is a hope. I felt we could do it, but for him to lead the charge does not surprise me. The kid is a winner. He’s always been a winner and he was completely loose out there tonight.
CCU pitching coach Drew Thomas
He threw a career-high 138 pitches Friday night – with 101 strikes – to help the Chants fend off elimination in the College World Series with a 4-1 win over TCU, while becoming just the fourth pitcher in the last 25 years to throw two complete games on this stage.
“He’s done this two games here, but this is nothing new to us,” Marks said. “This man does this night in and night out every time he gets the rock, whether he’s a starter or whether he’s coming out of the bullpen. It’s really fun to watch and he’s going to do big things, he really is.”
Whenever Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore gets to talking about Beckwith, he usually sums up his comments by calling him a “unique guy.”
There’s the unusual mix of side-arm and over-the-top deliveries that have kept hitters off balance all season, but the numbers alone fit that description as well.
Beckwith’s 2.17 career ERA (over 232 innings) is the best mark in the program’s Division I era. He also owns two of the top five single-season ERAs on the Chants’ all-time Div. I list and has chance to further that unparalleled resume next season.
“We feel that, heck, he is the best pitcher in the country and that’s no disrespect to any other pitcher in the country,” Marks elaborated after the news conference. “There’s so many good arms out there, and we’ve faced countless number of good arms, but when he gets the rock we know we’re going to have to play sharp defense because he’s going to fill it up, attack the zone. He really just is the best at what he does, going down, up, the numbers speak for themselves. ...
“If he doesn’t get a call later this week [with an undrafted free agent offer] I think next year might be even more impressive, honestly.”
It will be hard for he or anybody else to top what he’s done this week, though.
As Gilmore said, the complete-game 2-1 win over top-seeded Florida on Sunday had to be the most significant pitching performance in school history. And then he went and matched the feat against TCU with the Chants’ season on the line.
We feel that, heck, he is the best pitcher in the country and that’s no disrespect to any other pitcher in the country.
CCU left fielder Anthony Marks
Neither Gilmore nor Thomas expected Beckwith to go the distance Friday night, but at a certain point there was no stopping him.
“That was his call way more so than mine,” Gilmore said. “Like I said, I would have probably taken him out in the eighth inning probably around 105-108 pitches and Coach Thomas kept telling me, ‘He’s OK, he’s fine, I’ve talked to him. .... He doesn’t want to come out. He still says he has gas.’ And heck, he was 88-89 on his over-the-top deliveries in the eighth inning. I’m sitting there going, ‘Heck, he’s throwing harder now.’ He didn’t throw that hard in the beginning of the game. He’s just a unique guy.”
Gilmore joked in his postgame comments that he would have probably had to hit the pitcher with a brick to get him out of the game. Beckwith, in turn, was asked how much he protested to be allowed to finish it.
“I knew I had a lot left. I think 75 percent of my pitches were probably side-arm so that’s not really the toll I usually take on my arm in a start,” he said. “But, yeah, I think the next step was probably to yell at him or hit him with a brick. No, I’m just messing, but he trusts me and I know he does and I really thank him for letting me go back out there in the ninth.”
Said Thomas: “It was me and Beckwith bombarding [Gilmore]. [Closer Mike] Morrison was part of that too. And tonight, too, it was not a lot of stress. He went a lot more [side-arm] than up top and, to be honest, he was playing catch out there for five innings.”
Beckwith had a streak of 13 straight batters retired during the middle of the game while conserving some energy. He then allowed a solo home run in the eighth before working around a one-out single in the ninth to close it out.
“Andrew was absolutely incredible. I can’t say enough about him,” Gilmore said. “... He’s a unique young man, and what he did tonight was incredible.”
What he’s done all season has been incredible, for that matter.
“I mean the whole narrative itself is unbelievable,” Thomas said after the game. “So to say any of this was possible is a hope. I felt we could do it, but for him to lead the charge does not surprise me. The kid is a winner. He’s always been a winner and he was completely loose out there tonight.
“We talked about not writing the script, to not have expectations for tonight, just take it pitch by pitch. And he did that better than I could have expected.”
Because really, who could have written such a script?