America's Newspapers
Paper: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Title: GRANT BRINGS THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER - Butler ace takes southbound route past opposing hitters
Date: April 27, 2000

VANDALIA - Submarine-style pitcher Santel Grant sinks opposing hitters with regularity.

Some pitchers boast intimidating glares, others possess overpowering fastballs and sharp-breaking curveballs. Grant, a Vandalia Butler senior, confounds batters with his down-under delivery. High school hitters don't usually see a pitch that seems to be coming from a different hemisphere.

When Grant gets down, his knuckles descend and almost scrape the mound dirt, but then they abruptly rise.

"My ball sinks and has a lot of tail to it," said the 6-foot-3, 214-pound right-hander. "When I'm on, I get a lot of groundballs. Movement and consistency are more important to me than velocity. I'm not going to strike out too many hitters. I try to be a corner artist, moving the ball in and out and working the batters."

Grant has surfaced as one of the cornerstones on the impressive Aviators staff. He owns a 5-0 record with a microscopic 0.72 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 29 innings. Joining him in the rotation are Tom Hertlein (3-0, 0.88) and Curtis Hawse (4-0, 1.40).

Together, the trio has helped fuel Butler - 14-1 after losing to Troy, 7-5, on Wednesday - to the No. 2 spot in the state Division II baseball poll. The team is on the verge of its fifth straight Greater Miami Valley Conference title with a 6-1 record.

"We're solid in every phase of the game - pitching, defense and hitting (team batting average of .373)," said Grant, a defensive end in football. "My defense is making great plays behind me. I can't survive without them."

Grant is definitely a vanishing breed on and off the mound. Known variously as "the Aussie from Down Under" and the "Cuban Nightmare" ("I'm half Spanish," he says) Grant has a loose arm and loose personality. He regales teammates with his countless impersonations, including Harry Carey.

"Santel gives batters fits because his ball is a different look coming from underneath," said Aviators coach Trent Dues. "He's very unorthodox. What I like most about him is he wants the baseball and he can pitch forever with that natural motion. There is no stress on the arm. After going seven innings, he can come back and give me two the next day. He is a free spirit. There is never a dull moment on the bus or the dugout with Santel around."

Grant adopted a sidearm delivery playing as a 10-year-old in the F Minor League in Vandalia, and went to the underhanded technique as a freshman.

"I tried to switch him to overhand one day in the gym and the ball went up high into the balcony," Dues said with a laugh. "So much for that experiment."

Grant's repertoire includes a split-finger ("a rising slurve"), change-up, a fastball that ranges from 78 to 81 mph, and, ta-da, a developing knuckleball.

Wait until the hitters see that.

* Contact Ron Jackson at (513) 743-5308 or e-mail ron_jackson@coxohio.com

Copyright, 2000, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

Author: Ron Jackson Dayton Daily News
Section: SPORTS
Page: 3D
Copyright, 2000, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.