Lamaster fills role as top pitcher, personality

Brent Lamaster, pitcher for Mesa State College.

Brent Lamaster likes to joke around.

The Mesa State College senior pitcher will throw out one-liners and jab his teammates seemingly out of nowhere.

“He is a unique character,” Lamaster’s roommate and Mesa catcher Grant Vickers said. “He’s always a good laugh to have around. He says random thoughts and blurts it out of there. All the guys love him. He’s a great guy to have on the team and a great pitcher to have on the team.

“It’s a good personality to have. He’s a real confident guy. He goes out on the mound and
uses that personality to win.”

Opposing hitters aren’t laughing.

Lamaster (5-0) has virtually shut opponents down since he started his first game of the season five weeks ago.

He has won three of his four starts, throwing two complete games. He leads the RMAC in opponents’ batting average (.239) and is 30th in the nation in ERA (1.88).

Lamaster will start the series opener for the fourth consecutive week for the second-ranked Mavericks (34-5, 24-2 RMAC) against Metro State (21-17, 12-13). A spring storm forecast for Denver has prompted the teams to alter the series, which was slated to begin this afternoon.

Instead, the teams will play doubleheaders Sunday and Monday, both starting at noon.

Mesa State enters the series on a 16-game winning streak and ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA Central Region poll, released Wednesday. Wayne State (Neb.) College (24-8) is second, followed by New Mexico Highlands (28-12), CSU-Pueblo (30-13), Minnesota State-Mankato (22-10) and Winona State (Minn.) University (19-10).

“He’s earned that,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said of Lamaster’s start. “Now, it’s his responsibility to hold on to that. I still expect he can pitch better. We tell him to reach for better and better performances.”

Lamaster’s success has allowed Hanks to set a regular rotation the past month.

“It’s done a lot for us,” Hanks said. “It’s enabled us to move Chris Carma into the No. 2 hole.

At the end of last year, we said we want to pitch him in the 2 hole, not because he’s a No. 2 necessarily, but because we like the dynamics of how that works. We like Chris starting the Saturday of doubleheaders. If we want to switch back, we can.”

Hanks hoped Lamaster would fill the No. 1 starter role ever since the Lee’s Summit, Mo., native transferred from Neosho County (Kan.) Community College last year.

Lamaster struggled to get outs the first three series of the 2008 season. He went to short relief, then had an opportunity to be a closer, earning four saves before struggling again.

Hanks tried him in long relief, where he remained to the end of last season.

“Last year, he had a tendency to create his own big innings through walks, hit batters, bad pitches,” Hanks said. “He’s cleaned some of that up. He’s still better than what he’s shown.

“If he can stay dialed in and work at it, I think he’s starting the process of becoming a really good pitcher.  He can be really tough to beat.”

Lamaster worked on his mechanics in preparation for this season.

He started out in long relief, getting better each time out. He picked up his first win March 6 against New Mexico Highlands with seven innings of relief.

“After speaking to Coach, he wanted me to throw my fastball more and locate that,” Lamaster said. “I think that’s what I’ve been able to be successful with this year, being able to spot my fastball, throw strikes and get ahead early.

“The more I throw, the looser my arm gets, the more confident I get. ”


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