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Verlander's No-hitter No Surprise To ODU teammate

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: June 13, 2007
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June 13, 2007

With permission from the Daily Press http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-now-verlander.jn13,0,5708500.story Verlander's no-hitter no surprise to ODU teammate

BY MIKE HOLTZCLAW (757) 928-6479

June 13 2007, 10:44 AM EDT

Tyler Belcher was just a freshman at Old Dominion University when he had the chance to catch the rising star named Justin Verlander.

Belcher knew back then that Verlander was headed for greatness.

So it didn't faze him to hear that his old college teammate had thrown a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers last night.

"That doesn't surprise me at all," Belcher said from his family's home in Bristol, Va., this morning. "The kid is unbelievable. You just can't believe how good his stuff really is. To be so young and so dominant, it's amazing to watch."

Belcher just finished his baseball career at ODU, but he's glad that his time there overlapped for a year with Verlander, who was drafted in the first round by the Tigers in 2004.

"We did a lot of bullpen work together, and I had the privilege of catching him in a few games that year," Belcher said. "You can't help but get better when you're working with a guy considered to be a big-league pitcher who's still in college. He made me a better catcher, and he got all of us exposure from the scouts -- it was pretty natural for there to be almost 40 scouts in the stands every time Justin took the mound."

Belcher wasn't able to follow the progress of Verlander's no-hitter because he had spent the day out fishing on a boat with no cell phone reception. But when he got back on dry land, he saw that several people had been calling him. There were messages from his father and his brother asking him, "Did you hear about Justin?"

When he figured out what happened, it just made sense.

"I figured something like that was up when I got those messages," Belcher said. "At least I got to watch all the coverage of it on ESPN. That was really something to see." Copyright © 2007, Daily Press

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