2024 season raises Bobcat sophomore Glanton's pitching game to new level

May 22—A metaphor used when an athlete reaches new levels of achievement is to say the stock is rising.

In this latter half of the Georgia College & State University baseball season, John Luke Glanton's pitching performances have increased in value to where the label 'All-America' isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The sophomore from Metter is sure to have the baseball in his hands this weekend when he and the Bobcats continue an underdog journey that's taken them to the NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional. Glanton was the winning pitcher last week when GCSU upset national top 10 North Greenville (South Carolina) on the Crusaders' home field to start the Southeast Regional, then the Bobcats won two in a row over Mount Olive to keep the 2024 improbable postseason alive.

Catawba College is the host for the Super Regional best-of-3 series in Salisbury, North Carolina. Game 1 is Friday at 6 p.m., and then if two more games are needed they will both be held Saturday, the guaranteed first one to begin at 3:30 p.m.

North Greenville was No. 3 in the last NCBWA Division II poll, Mount Olive was No. 19 and Catawba is No. 9. The Chiefs are 42-15 and just hosted a three-team Southeast Regional that included No. 13 UNC-Pembroke and No. 25 Young Harris.

Glanton will take an 11-4 record and 2.45 earned run average in 114 innings to the mound. He has 63 strikeouts to 22 walks and allowed 102 hits. Glanton has worked seven or more innings in his last nine starts going back to March 23 with only one of those being a loss.

While leading the Bobcats to the Peach Belt Conference tournament championship, Glanton made first-team All-Conference and the All-Tournament Team. The NCBWA named him second-team All-Southeast Region.

"It's just a huge opportunity for us from where we came from," said Glanton, referring to the sixth-place preseason prediction for the Peach Belt to a now 37-20 record. "We're excited for it and ready.

"It's been awesome. It's just a lot of hard work and preparation paying off."

Not all of the stat lines were pretty like the 9-inning four-hit 8-0 shutout of Augusta at home with no walks or the 5-1 complete game at Columbus State. To start the PBC final against Flagler, GCSU won 6-4 as Glanton gave up 11 hits and four earned runs while walking five.

North Greenville then scored two first-inning runs on four hits, but left the bases loaded. The Bobcat offense took care of things with nine runs in a row, and Glanton shut things down for his next six frames to win 9-5.

"It was settling in and doing what I do," said Glanton. "Throw a lot of strikes, get ahead in counts and force contact. Just let them hit it. I started out throwing fastball/change-up, and they were hitting the change-up. We switched and went more heavy breaking balls, sliders, and it seemed to be working. Being accurate with pitches, put it in a good spot and trust your defense."

Glanton knows the championship celebration feeling. He was part of the Class A-Public 2021 and 2022 state champions at Metter High School.

"It's real small," he said. "We only have a couple of grocery stores. We have a high school, and that's about it."

He tended to concentrate more on strikeouts as a high school pitcher throwing harder than most others, but he learned everybody hits the ball harder and farther in college. When he wasn't pitching, Glanton played catcher, and while it was asking a lot of his arm, he loved it. But he gladly put the 'tools of ignorance' arise to focus on pitching for the Bobcats.

"I really liked the coaches here," said Glanton about choosing to play for Nolan Belcher at GCSU. "He was really honest with me through the recruiting process."

His time on the mound as a freshman didn't pick up until very late in 2023. He had several outings of one to two innings, then threw a season-high seven with seven strikeouts in a Peach Belt game at home versus USC-Aiken. He followed that up with a win over Columbus State going six with two unearned runs allowed and no walks. Glanton wound up with 30 2/3 innings in all and a 3-2 record and 3.82 ERA.

"The first was just getting into college baseball and learning how to pitch," he said. "It is a big jump. Learning to trust myself and know I'm good enough to pitch at this level. We get after it in the weight room almost every day, a lot more than high school."

Glanton said the Bobcat coaches help in that trust and confidence building, figuring out where he is and isn't good and work from there. He thinks he's hit 91 mph on the radar gun but he's usually between 88 and 90, and he has a good sinker that doesn't take as much velocity.

As for taking on Catawba with a spot in the NCAA Division II World Series on the line, Glanton said the Bobcats need to be who they are and keep the "road warrior" mindset playing on the other team's field. As for a scouting report, he said the Chiefs may have several left-handed hitters and he likes throwing to lefties.

As for what's next for John Luke Glanton, when this season does eventually end, he plans to trust God with the future.