A summer switch turned Nick Sandlin into a sidearm star.
The Greenbrier baseball player was set to be a reliever, filling the role previously held by Adam Grice. But about a year ago, Sandlin started throwing sidearm, and it didn’t take long for him to move from reliever to ace.
This season, the junior went 13-0 with a 1.44 ERA and also hit .358 as the Wolfpack reached the Class AAAAA state semifinals. Sandlin is The Augusta Chronicle All-Area Georgia Baseball Player of the Year.
“Every day coming out here was a lot of fun,” Sandlin said. “Continuing the season until the final four meant it went a lot longer.”
With the sidearm delivery, Sandlin used his arsenal and the unusual release point to confound hitters. Though he used a fastball and started gaining control of his changeup later in the season, Sandlin said his slider was his favorite out pitch.
Sandlin struck out 94 hitters this season, reaching the total after a dominant postseason.
In four state playoff starts, Sandlin allowed only two total earned runs and struck out 36 batters.
In the Wolfpack’s run, Greenbrier went 4-0 in Sandlin’s starts and 3-4 in the other games.
But even when Sandlin was done picking up Game 1 wins, he wasn’t finished contributing. Throughout the season, he was a consistent threat in the lineup. Not only did he hit above .350, but Sandlin also had 21 RBI and scored 18 runs.
“I really like (batting and pitching), but with pitching, you’re in control and the game is in your hands,” he said.
The Region 2A-AAAAA Pitcher of the Year’s masterful outings included taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning against Stephenson in the state quarterfinals. Backed by Greenbrier’s loud bats that game, Sandlin didn’t need to pitch after the fifth, as the Wolfpack won by the run rule, 10-0, in five. He also got his team’s one victory in the state semifinals, when Greenbrier held off Whitewater in Game 1.
The entire season, Sandlin’s sidearm pitching proved to be difficult to handle, no matter the opponent.
“Once you just get the feel for it, and learn about the mechanics, I guess it’s about the same,” he said about the adjustment. “You’re just trying to get guys out.”