If Tuesday night was Bryse Wilson’s final start as an Orange Panther, he picked the perfect way to go out.
Wilson threw a perfect game on 71 pitches as Orange (19-6) defeated Eastern Wayne 2-0 in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletics Association state 3A baseball playoffs. Of his 71 pitches, 53 were strikes as Wilson (9-2) threw his third no-hitter of the year.
“I don’t remember a perfect game being thrown on this field,” Orange coach Dean Dease said. “But I’m getting old an my memory isn’t as good as it once was. We probably haven’t had one.”
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Though he was overshadowed on the mound, Warriors pitcher Zack Smith (4-2) also had a strong performance, yielding only five hits.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Orange shortstop Cameron Mehl laced a two-out, two-run double to bring home Chandler Compton and Jason Slaughter with the only runs of the game.
Mehl’s double down the left field line was his first extra-base hit this season after a team-leading 27 singles. Mehl, a .354 hitter, now ranks second for Orange in runs batted in (20), trailing only catcher Brad Debo (21). A South Carolina signee, Debo has the top batting average (.448) of any Panther with at least 12 starts this season.
When the Panthers finally had broken up the scoreless tie, an Orange backup in the dugout muttered to Wilson: “Now let’s go out and finish this perfect game.” Wilson promptly threw three straight balls to the subsequent batter, Michael Wiggins, who eventually lined out to third baseman Cole Campanile.
Wiggins was one of only two Eastern Wayne batters who took three balls against Wilson, who struck out six.
Tuesday’s loss at Orange was the fourth straight shutout for Eastern Wayne (13-10), and the Warriors’ seventh overall this year.
Eastern Wayne, which finished fifth this season in the strong 4A/3A Eastern Carolina Conference, had its chances to not only break up the perfect game, but to take the lead against the Big Eight Champions. Right fielder Tanner Wiggins led off the fifth with a deep fly ball to centerfield, where Johnny Flynn had to jump against the fence to catch it for the out. Later in the fifth, Collin Nix sent a line drive to center, where Flynn once again made a big catch.
“The balls that were hit hard were fly balls hit to centerfield where the batters were expecting a fastball,” Dease said. “Johnny had to run a few down and he did a good job.”
In addition to his perfect game, Wilson went 1-for-2 at the plate and drew a walk in his other plate appearance. He also was Orange’s first baserunner. In the second inning, he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder to third.