BELMONT, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - It’s not how you start, it's how you finish.
We’ve all heard that cliché before. Yet it means a little more for the Belmont Abbey Baseball Team.
“You go 37-17 and you lose literally in the last inning in the Conference Tournament Championship,” said head coach Chris Anderson. “And not get the automatic qualifier, and sitting at home, hoping on regional selection show, I think it was heart-wrenching.”
Heart-wrenching because the Crusaders were one of the hottest teams in Division II baseball down the stretch in 2017 winning 27 of their final 32 games. However, they missed out on the post season because they struggled in the beginning of the season.
“I think it just motivated us to not put it in the hands of the regional voters,” senior catcher Thomas Yoder said.
So, determined to control their own destiny in 2018, the Crusaders came back stronger, racking up wins early and often. They jumped all the way up to the number two ranking in the nation, something that’s never been done by any sports team at the college.
“It’s pretty cool, you know, highest ranking in school and it shows that the hard work is paying off,” Yoder said.
Paying off in a big way, the Crusaders rank in the top five in the country in nearly a dozen statistical categories. Yet, the guys in the clubhouse don’t point to those stats as the reason for their success.
“Our team has a lot of heart and we don’t quit, we’ve been down, our backs been against the rope and we’ve come back, because we are always willing to fight for each other,” senior infielder Matt McGarry said.
“We think we’re the best team in the country, so if we keep playing like that, we don’t think there’s anyone that can beat us,” senior outfielder Nick Beinlich said.