Mar. 19—Brunswick High senior pitcher Isaiah Wellman is a force on the mound this season. That dominance continued Wednesday night as he helped lead the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over Statesboro.
The series is tied at 1-1 with the rubber match on Friday to decide the series with that win. This week for Brunswick baseball has been full of ups and downs, with a few starters having to quarantine because of COVID-19. The Pirates started two freshmen and a sophomore in their place and still found a way to win.
Coach Greg Roberts said they had more coaches than players in the dugout when they were on defense.
"We had a thin group in the dugout from all the guys that are out with only three guys in the dugout," Roberts said. "The kids didn't seem to be fazed by it. Their attitude was good before the game."
Like last week against Richmond Hill, the Pirates were down one game in the series, so Roberts and the coaching staff challenged them. Roberts said losing games would happen because that's part of baseball but said they're sticking to the goals they set.
"We were right here last week. We lost the Monday game, so we've got to find a way to bounce back, win our region game and then try to win the series," Roberts said. "One of our goals is to win every series. You're going to lose them some, and you're going to get some bumps and bruises along the way.
"We started two freshmen and sophomore tonight, and those guys both found the base. Riley (Morgan) comes up and gets a big swing. The two freshmen played pretty well defensively. They're competing, and that's all I can ask of them."
The Pirates' bats were hot as they tallied nine hits on the game.
DeVontae Gadson started things off as he hit a single, followed by Riley Morgan hitting one. Caden Hutchinson hit a double to center field with two runners on base to score both Gadson and Morgan, making it 2-1.
Dalton Tindall hit a single to give the Pirates two more runners on base with Matthew Neal up to bat. Neal hit a ground ball into a double play, but Hutchinson managed to score, giving the team a two-run lead.
Brunswick followed up with another run in the second inning as Gadson racked in another hit as he doubled to center field, scoring Elijah Wellman. Statesboro tacked on two runs in the fifth, but Brunswick scored one more in the bottom of the inning as Isaiah Wellman hit a sacrifice fly to score Tindall.
Then Isaiah got to work on the mound as he had to face two of the Blue Devils' toughest hitters.
"I can't say enough about how well Isaiah did tonight. He's got some young guys out there that made a few mistakes, and he never lost focus," Roberts said. "He went right back at the next guy and found a way to continue to compete against a very good lineup. That lineup top to bottom may be one of the best one through nine we've seen all year."
Wellman pitched all seven innings for the Pirates giving up three runs on five hits while striking out six batters and walking one.
"The last inning, he gets the three-hole and a four-hole guy. Those two back in the back are probably the biggest threat I've seen all year — hitter behind hitter, and he did a good job on getting those guys to reach at pitches right there at the end," Roberts said. "If given a chance, they could have really hurt us."
Despite not having his usual defense behind him, Wellman stayed poised on the mound and battled. Roberts said that's the senior ballplayer in him.
"He's very poised, and he has a lot of confidence in himself right now," Roberts said. "He's not letting the negative things get to him. He's faced some really good lineups this year and some good baseball players. He and I talked about it, I think he's faced eight Division 1 players already this year, and he's held his own — for the most part against all those guys."
Roberts said Wellman understands what he's trying to do on the mound and the hitters he's facing. The little things aren't bothering him, and he's one of their leaders.
"He gave us a chance to win, and he had that look in his eye — he knew he had to go out and pitch well," Roberts said. "He was as calm and as poised — before the game, we got all these guys out here, so I don't get to see him very much, but I could tell the night that he was focused and dialed in — Coach Bonifay said his bullpen look phenomenal. He threw three pitches for strikes, and in high school, if you can do that with a little bit of velocity, you got a good chance to win."
By having that poise on the mound, helps keeps the guys behind him on that same level. Wellman is the leader, so with this adversity hitting and young players starting, having him cool, calm and collected helps the entire team.
"We got a lot of guys that are still learning — a lot of guys that don't have a lot of varsity experience still. They're getting it now, and it's kind of trial by fire," Roberts said. "You see a guy that's probably had the most experience on our team behind Caden as far as a varsity player. If he loses his composure throughout a ballgame, then it's going to filter down. So he's been a great leader for us right now by not doing that, not letting those kinds of things affect him and keep pitching. He's a big piece to our success right now."
As the Pirates look to Game 3 of the series, Roberts said they've just got to clean up some of the little things.
"It's the fundamental stuff — it's the little things. I felt we were prepared. Everything that's been thrown at us — if we clean a few more things up. Hopefully, we get a few of these guys back on Friday, and I feel like we'll go into Statesboro and hopefully win this series."
Game 3 is set to start at 6 p.m. at Statesboro as the Pirates look to claim their second series in a row.