SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Senior Matt Branham (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) made his last performance as a member of the USC Upstate baseball team a memorable one on Wednesday night, as the 6-5 right-hander struck out eight batters to set a pair of new school records and lift USC Upstate to an 8-6 win over William & Mary, helping him earn his third Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Week honors, the conference office in Macon, Ga., announced on Monday.
Sporting a Mohawk trimmed on Monday, Branham did some trimming of his own on against the Tribe as the senior hurler won his 17th career game by tossing seven strong innings, allowing just two seventh-inning runs and seven hits, three of which came in the seventh. In between, Branham struck out eight batters, first tying his own single-season strikeout record with a third inning leadoff strikeout of Derek Lowe. In the fifth, the Columbia, S.C. native broke the record he set in 2009 with his 83rd punchout of the year with a leadoff strikeout of Sean Aiken.
In the sixth, Branham broke the school's career strikeout record, passing Scott Eckard (2005-08) with his 262nd career K, striking out Tadd Bower. After that, the senior added two more strikeouts to give him eight in the game, 86 on the season and 264 in his career.
Branham is the first player in school history to post two conference player of the week awards in a season and he also extended his school record with his third career player of the week honors. He also earned the award on March 29 after a 140-pitch complete game against Belmont this season and he also earned A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honors for a 10-strikeout complete-game six-hitter against Gardner-Webb on April 6, 2008.
Branham will now wait until June 7 to see if he will be drafted for the second time in his career after hearing his name called in the 47th round of the 2009 draft when Houston picked him. Branham finished his senior season with a career-best 6-3 record, a school-record 86 strikeouts, 83.2 innings pitched, 23 walks and a 4.20 ERA.
USC Upstate finished the 2010 season with a 19-37 record under 13th-year head coach Matt Fincher.