Brandon Holup went from a pitcher who did not have much luck in 2011 to one who made his own luck in 2012 by refusing to give up anything.
Holup, a 6-foot-6 senior right-hander for Jackson Memorial, concluded his career by pitching himself into Shore Conference immortality with five consecutive shutouts. All of those shutouts came in tournament games, including two championship games.
“My coaches and all my friends were telling me it’s a huge accomplishment. I know it’s a huge accomplishment,” said Holup, who went 8-2 with a 0.75 earned run average and was a part of seven shutouts, including six complete-games shutouts. “Five straight is pretty big. That’s crazy.”
Jackson Memorial head coach Frank Malta and Jaguars pitching coach J.M. Gold always thought Holup had the potential to be a dominant pitcher.
Holup started and pitched well in three of the Jaguars’ biggest games in 2011. The problem was his team gave him no run support.
He was the losing pitcher in two 3-0 games to NJSIAA Group IV champion Manalapan and Braves standout left-hander Jake Winston.
Holup was also on the short end of a 2-1 defeat to Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game.
“My coaches relying on me to pitch in big games last year was a huge confidence boost,” said Holup, who will play collegiate baseball at East Stroudsburg State.
Holup has been a personal project of Gold, the former Toms River North standout pitcher who was the Milwaukee Brewers’ first-round pick and the 13th overall in the 1998 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
One of the things Gold worked on with Holup is the development of the curveball.
“He’s (Gold) the one who showed me my new grip,” Holup said. “He changed the position of where my fingers were on the ball.”
Holup’s shutout string began when he outpitched Barnegat standout left-hander Mark McCoy in a 1-0 win in an Ocean County Tournament quarterfinal.
Next was another taut pitcher’s duel as he defeated Brick Memorial and the Mustangs’ then-unbeaten Brian Cottrell, 1-0, in the OCT championship game. That win gave Jackson Memorial its first OCT title since it won the first one in 1972.
Monmouth County Tournament champion Freehold Township and Middletown South and Rutgers University-bound left-hander Howie Brey were Holup’s next two shutout victims in a pair of 4-0 games. He concluded the run with a two-hitter on 67 pitches in the 7-0 win over Toms River North in the Shore Conference Tournament championship game.
Holup ended the season with 35 consecutive scoreless innings. Toms River South, in a 5-3 win over Holup and the Jaguars on April 30, was the last team to score on Holup when it scored four in the fourth and another in the seventh.
“I just went out there like it was a normal game every time. I knew they were huge games and I had to keep us in the game,” Holup said.