23 Mar

blazing a trail

Among the pantheon of outstanding pitchers in Mississippi’s collegiate ranks this season, Belhaven University’s Brett Sanchez is putting up numbers that are second to none. The sophomore right-hander from Slidell, La., is 6-0 with a 0.90 ERA in six starts for the NCAA Division III Blazers, who are 13-5 and 8-1 in the American Southwest Conference. He has been named the ASC pitcher of the week three times and was the D-III pitcher of the month for February. “He’s a special person,” said Kyle Palmer, Belhaven’s second-year coach. “His mindset is key for him. … He believes he is the best player on the field and that’s the way he pitches.” Sanchez, who goes 6 feet 4 and uses a submarine-style motion, has 49 strikeouts and just four walks in 50 innings. In his last outing, Friday at Howard Payne, Sanchez worked 11 innings, yielding four runs (three earned) on 10 hits with nine punchouts and one walk. “He has two pitches (fastball and curve) he can throw in the zone at any time,” Palmer said. Sanchez’s athleticism is crucial to his repeatable delivery, Palmer said, and the 15 mph difference in his two pitches keeps hitters off balance. Sanchez went 3-2, 2.36 in five starts in the abbreviated 2020 season. He began his college career at NAIA Dakota State in South Dakota. The Belhaven connection came via catcher Chase Kitchens, who knew Sanchez from Slidell, knew he was looking to get closer to home and put his friend in touch with Blazers assistant coach and chief recruiter Josh Clarke. … The Blazers, who are hitting .331 as a team led by Kyle McLaughlin (.473) and Nick Lucido (.427), host ASC foe Sul Ross State at Smith-Wills Stadium this weekend (Friday twinbill, Saturday single game). Sanchez is penciled in to start Game 2 on Friday.

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