Coastal Carolina baseball coach Gary Gilmore wasted no time putting one of his prized freshman pitchers in a big moment Friday in the Chanticleers' season opener.
With the Chants protecting a 4-3 lead entering the ninth inning, Gilmore called on rookie right-hander Seth Lamando, who created considerable buzz in the preseason and looks to be the preferred choice at the back of the bullpen.
Lamando faced only four hitters while allowing just a harmless two-out single on the way to his first save, and he says he's ready for the challenge of closing games as a freshman.
"Absolutely," he said afterward." Anything I can do for the team to get that win. I'm always ready for it."
Lamando, out of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., throws in the low to mid 90s and seems to have the poise necessary for the job. Gilmore's hope is that he can put the rookie behind senior submarine-style pitchers Aaron Burke and Ryan Connolly to give opponents a starkly different look from one inning to the next.
"Throughout the spring and through the fall, I kind of got the hint that I was going to be a closer," Lamando said. "It was different at first after my high school career -- I was always a starter. But I'm definitely getting used to that role and I love it."
Lamando said he also had interest from St. John's, Louisville, North Carolina and Elon coming out of high school, but he feels he found the right fit at Coastal.
"Everyone tells you when you go and visit a school, you kind of get that gut feeling it's a place you want to be," he said. "And the coaching staff, everybody here is just unbelievable and it was the place for me."
| Ryan Young, email@example.com