Belcher shows why he’s one of state’s best

The Woodland baseball team sent its best to the mound against St. Joseph-Trumbull on a very warm Thursday afternoon at Dunkin’ Park in Hartford.

Everyone in this area knows who it is, but there may still be some in the state that don’t. His name is Michael Belcher, and he is a senior co-captain, along with Ethan Stepputtis. What Belcher also is is the ace of a pitching staff, something he’s been for the Hawks since he was a freshman.

“Michael Belcher has been the foundation of our program here for four years, and we don’t have the success we’ve had without him here,” Woodland head coach Steve Bainer said after a 2-1 win over St. Joseph. “He is among, if not the best player in the state, and I don’t mind saying that.”

All Belcher did was toss a complete game two-hitter with 14 strikeouts against a tough lineup out of the formidable Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Belcher’s second strikeout of the game was also the 300th of his career. It came on a called third strike, an 89 MPH fastball, with a 3-2 count.

With St. Joseph runners on the basepaths and the high school pitch out looming in the top of the seventh inning, Belcher bore down and got the job done. That’s something he’s done for four years.

“At the plate, he leaves the yard, he’s hitting over .500 right now. On the mound, he has over 300 career strikeouts, he has (25 wins). I know there’s talk about a lot of really good players, and I just want to make sure it’s out there that our guy’s pretty good, too,” Bainer said. “And not to mention, his best quality is his leadership. We don’t go without his leadership. Just an outstanding teammate, an outstanding player, and just an outstanding kid.”

The right-hander’s fastball hit 93 MPH on the radar gun at Dunkin on Thursday, and there were a whole bunch of times where it read 91 or 92. Even late in the game, Belcher dialed up some good heat.

“That’s when Michael does his best. His ability to find whatever’s in the reserves. There’s always something with him, and that speaks to the competitor and the player he is, that there’s always something with him,” Bainer said. “He’ll be the first one to deflect credit to his other teammates, but that’s a testament to his ability as a leader and as a teammate.”

Belcher helped Woodland get to 16-0 on the season, and beat St. Joseph for the second time in as many seasons. At the plate, Stepputtis was 2-for-3, and Bill Untiet’s two-run single in the bottom of the first inning gave Belcher something to work with.

Woodland is ranked sixth in the latest GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, and with good reason. The Hawks are a strong team, and their pitcher/outfielder/leader Belcher is without a doubt one of the best in the state.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Thursday’s game.

Caption: Woodland senior standout Michael Belcher gets congratulations from teammates after recording his 300th career strikeout during Thursday afternoon’s game against St. Joseph-Trumbull at Dunkin’ Park in Hartford. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)