Don’t look for Bryson Whaley to lose his composure, because not even walking home a run with the bases loaded and one out could make that happen.
Once the championship jitters subsided, Whaley returned to the form which had helped carry the Pirates through 13 games undefeated.
All it took was a mound visit from head coach Lance Wild, who firmly believed Whaley when he replied with “I’m fine. I’ve got it.”
Indeed, the only thing which could remove Whaley from the mound on this night was the 75-pitch limit as he struck out nine and helped the Pirates take down the Mets 10-3 at McAmis-Sempkowski Field on Friday evening.
Make that 14 games undefeated as the Pirates claimed the Morristown Parks and Recreation Minor League Baseball City Championship with the triumph.
“(Whaley) found his groove and the kid has done it all year. We wouldn’t be where we’re at today without him,” Wild said. “He’s been our racehorse all year, and that was another Bryson performance.”
By another Bryson performance, he meant Whaley struck out seven batters in a row after issuing a bases-loaded walk in the top of the first. Not until the fourth inning did he allow another hit and by that time, the Pirates held a commanding 10-1 lead.
Likewise, the only thing which could slow the Pirates in their explosive third inning was the limit of seven runs per frame as they turned a 3-1 lead into a nine-run cushion.
Whaley was a part of that too, knocking a base hit to right three batters after Leo Hull had ripped an RBI single to right field for a 4-1 advantage. Hull and Sutton Smith, who went 2-for-2 and got on base with a single, each scored on a passed ball for a 6-1 lead.
Conner Hanshaw led the Pirates in RBIs with two, coming three batters later when he singled up the middle to send home Whaley and Aaron Carpenter to make it 8-1. But the play didn’t end there as Hanshaw sacrificed himself in a rundown to allow Carson Lacy enough time to cross home plate.
Conner Everhart sent home Mekhi Gilchrist for the Pirates’ last run with an RBI single to center field, ending the inning via seven-run limit.
Smith relieved Whaley after his final strikeout in the fifth inning and fanned the Mets’ final two batters before time expired in the home half of the frame.
Hull batted 2-for-3 to help the Pirates finish the contest with eight hits.
“Those guys (Hull and Smith) have hit the ball solid all year. The top of the lineup has been productive all year and tonight was no other case,” Wild added. “I guess I was more proud of our guys all the way from top to bottom and Mekhi, the kid has been getting better and better all year, growing and growing as a ball player.”
Gilchrist recorded one of the Pirates’ eight hits when he ripped a one-out double to right field in the second. With two down, Reed Patrick took ball four and then turned toward second base on a double steal as Gilchrist headed home, sliding head first on the rain-dampened infield into the dish for a 3-1 lead.
Hull’s leadoff single got the Pirates going in the first, and Smith stepped up with one out and the tying run at third. Smith not only pulled the Pirates even at 1 when he hammered an RBI triple into deep right field but rounded third and scored himself for a 2-1 lead thanks to an error.
But it was the Mets who got going first as Austin Grooms hit a leadoff double to left. Dylan Maltba, Urijah Marsingill and Corbin Wilhite then drew three straight one-out walks with Wilhite’s base on balls forcing home Grooms. Whaley then settled in and fanned the next two batters to escape further damage.
Maltba gave the Mets a much-needed spark in the fourth with his one-out triple, and a throwing error allowed him to make it all the way home.
Ryder Smith kept the Mets alive in similar style to lead off the fifth, crushing a triple to right and scoring on a throwing error for what turned out to be the final score. Kaleb DeCesare’s ensuing single rounded out the Mets’ four hits.
Marsingill started for the Mets and took the loss, going three innings and striking out four.
Everhart, Hanshaw, Whaley and Gilchrist recorded one hit apiece for the Pirates, who maintained a business-like attitude toward winning the city championship even after time expired.
“We started the season with one goal and that was to win every game. As I’ve told them many times, you can’t win every game if you don’t win them one at a time. This team has a lot of tenacity and that just shows you they expected to win the game. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Wild, who expressed his appreciation for the fans in attendance despite a brief period of light rain. “Great turnout and what a great group of kids. I’ve been honored and the other coaches have been honored. This is something they’ll look back on. I’m just happy for the kids.”