Baseball: Brown embraces role as staff leader for Shiloh Christian
Posted: April 9, 2017 at 1 a.m.
SPRINGDALE -- As a sophomore last spring, Landon Brown played a key role as Shiloh Christian rolled through the Class 4A state baseball tournament.
He did his part to help the Saints dispose of team-after-team in one of the most dominant pitching performances ever seen in the state playoffs, but it was senior Gunner Gilbert who led the staff and earned the complete-game win as the Saints edged Ashdown 1-0 in Baum Stadium.
At A Glance
SCHOOL Shiloh Christian
NOTABLE The ace of Shiloh Christian’s pitching staff. … Was dominant in the Saints’ run to the Class 4A state championship run last season. … Is 3-0 this season with 51 strikeouts and 1 save. … Is 3-for-7 as a hitter with a .429 batting average. … Fastball has been clocked at 87 by PBR Arkansas.
On The Web
For more on Landon Brown, see the video at nwadg.com and arpreps.com.
Brown earned All-State Tournament honors and helped the team post six shutouts in seven post-season games, including all three state tournament games. And he was the first one to charge out of the dugout to lead the dogpile as the Saints hoisted the championship trophy.
As a junior, it's now Brown's turn to anchor the staff, and the 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander is doing just that. Brown is 3-0 with one save and 51 strikeouts this season with an ERA of 0.66. He's been clocked at 87 miles per hour this season and regularly pitches between 84-86 with a tailing fastball.
"We're really confident right now. We're all bonding, and we're confident in our coaches," Brown said. "I think we're picking up where we left off last year, and we're really gelling more quickly this year. Last year it hit us in the regionals and state, but this year it's hitting right now in the regular season."
The Saints (14-3, 6-0 3A/4A Conference) have won six straight games since a 13-12 loss to Farmington. Shiloh Christian is coming off a 5-0 shutout win against Pea Ridge in which Brown earned the win with seven strikeouts.
Moe Henry, the Shiloh Christian baseball coach, said Brown has proven he is ready to take on that staff leadership role this season.
"He's a guy that just wants the ball in his hand," Henry said. "He had the ability to go and compete in those games last year as well, but he's having a real good season for us."
Brown has embraced the opportunity to lead the Saints' pitching staff, which may be even deeper than last year's group.
"I love it. I'm one of those people that loves the big role, the leadership role, and this year I've really taken pride in that," Brown said. "I'm going to take everyone under my wing, the new pitchers, and go out there every night and give them what I've got. I want to do what Gunner did last year and take the big games."
Brown is primarily a starter but has served time in relief this season. That versatility has been a key to the Saints' hot start, Henry said.
Coming on in relief was a role Brown relished last season as well, and he was warmed and ready in the title game to take the mound late in the game. And he almost did.
"We were just getting through the sixth inning, and coach looks over there and says, 'Brown, it's about to be your time. Go down there and get warm,'" Brown said. "And I was like, man this is about to be fun. I'm about to go in the state championship game and shut these guys out. They ain't going to touch my ball."
After getting loose in the bullpen, Brown ran back to the Saints' dugout as the seventh inning started. When Gilbert got two outs, Brown said he took his spikes off figuring he wouldn't go in the game. But after Ashdown got two runners on, he put his spikes back on.
"Coach was like, if he gets another guy on, you're going in," Brown said.
But Brown removed his spikes as a show of faith that his teammate would close the game out.
When the Saints recorded the third out of the 1-0 win, Brown raced out of the dugout and tackled Gilbert near the pitcher's mound.
"I was on the bottom," he recalled. "I was jacked."
Brown's role this season has been primarily as a pitcher-only, or a PO in baseball vernacular. But that doesn't mean he's turned his back completely on hitting. Quite the opposite, actually.
"I'm a little upset," Brown said with a smile. "I tell coach every once in a while, 'Hey I can swing it.' But he's like, 'No we just want you to pitch only.' But I can hit. I can drop bombs; I can drop tanks. I have those battling gloves on me at all times in my back pocket. I'm like, 'Coach I'm over here when you need me.'
"I am biting at the bit to get in there and hit."
In a small sample size, Brown is 3-for-7 (.429 average) at the plate with a double.
Brown said several Division I schools are looking at him currently, and more are likely to show interest as his fastball ticks up to the 90 mph range.
Arkansas, Wichita State, UCA and Arkansas-Little Rock have all expressed interest or scouted him. With another year of growth, the number of suitors likely will continue to grow for the Saints' ace.
Sports on 04/09/2017