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May 25, 2010
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Ending his career with wins in four of his last five starts, senior Matt Branham (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) helped himself join Kyle Bowley '08 as the only players in school history to earn All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors, wrapping up his career with a slot on the second team, the league office in Macon, Ga., announced on Tuesday afternoon. Along with Branham, freshman shortstop Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C./Belton-Honea Path) earned a slot on the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.
Paul Hoilman, ETSU's slugging first baseman, earned the league's Player of the Year award and Chris Sale, an almost sure-fire first round draft pick as a fireballing left-hander, was a unanimous selection as the league's Pitcher of the Year. FGCU's Dave Tollett won his third straight A-Sun Coach of the Year award and Jacksonville outfielder Dan Gulbransen earned the league's Freshman of the Year award.
Branham, who currently ranks fourth in the A-Sun in ERA (4.20), sixth in innings pitched (83.1), tied for third in strikeouts (86), tied for eighth in wins (6-3), tied for first in games started (14) and tied for first in runners picked off (7), proved he was an elite frontline starter for the Spartans this season, carrying an ERA of 2.54 after his first seven starts. Although, his ERA rose to 4.20 by the end of the season, the Spartans' increased run production with him on the hill helped him go 4-0 in his last five starts.
The 6-5 right-hander posted a 4-1 mark in A-Sun play, striking out 55 batters in 57.2 innings while posting a 4.99 ERA. Throughout the season, Branham lasted at least five innings in all 14 of his starts and he rolled through at least seven innings four times, including in the final three starts of his career, when he posted wins over Stetson, Kennesaw State and William & Mary.
Along the way, Branham, a 47th-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in 2009 after striking out a school-record 82 batters for Upstate, chased several of Upstate's pitching records, lifting himself to the top of three lists in his last game, as he set the school's record for career starts with his 51st on May 19 against William & Mary. Later in the game, he broke his own single-season record for strikeouts and he went on to break the school record for career strikeouts, finishing the year with 86 strikeouts and his career with 264.
Branham is among the top 10 in school history in eight categories, including innings pitched (315.2, 2nd), fewest walks per nine innings (2.68, 3rd), shutouts (1, 3rd), wins (17, 5th), appearances (55, 6th), and ERA (4.08, 7th). His 83.2 innings pitched as a senior are sixth in school history and his 9.25 strikeouts per nine innings is ninth.
Branham joins Bowley as the school's only All-A-Sun performers, as Bowley earned second-team honors as a senior in 2008 after posting a 6-3 record on the mound.
Greer is the third Spartan to earn A-Sun All-Freshman honors, joining junior Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) earned the award in 2008 and sophomore Austin Moyer (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) earned it in 2009.
Greer was not just Upstate's starting shortstop, but the Upstate shortstop, playing all but three innings at the position as a true freshman. The solid-fielding rookie posted a school-record 167 assists, which also stands third in the A-Sun. He also finished the year tied for fourth in school history with his 56 games played and fifth with 222 at bats.
A solid presence in Upstate's lineup, Greer finished the year with a .266 average, 32 runs, 59 hits, 11 doubles, four triples and 18 RBI. Greer saved his best for A-Sun games, when the shortstop hit .283 with 13 runs, 30 hits and 12 of his 18 RBI. The rookie also posted a 10-game hitting streak early in the season and also went on a tear of eight straight games with a hit late in the year, helping his average rise to .281 before it fell over the last five games of the year to its final .266.
USC Upstate finished the 2010 season with a 19-37 record under 13th-year head coach Matt Fincher.