Starting pitcher Jack Wheeland of Pitman High could not be touched in Monday's opening playoff game against Franklin of Stockton in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I South tournament, at least not until the seventh inning.
Wheeland ended up tossing a complete game and allowed just one hit in the seventh inning while the offense was able to muster enough runs to secure the Pride's 5-1 win and leap them into the second round against Bear Creek.
“Jack threw well today and carried a no hitter into the seventh inning, with one out he gave up a single to center field,” said Pitman head coach John Acha. “We got exactly what we needed from Jack and didn't have to dig into our pitching staff.”
“I felt good going in because I know I wanted it so bad. I wanted the team to move on and I couldn't have done it without the defense behind me,” said Wheeland. “I didn't feel like this was my best game because I was sick yesterday and I didn't have every pitch working. My fastball was spot on but my curve was a little off.”
That didn't matter as Wheeland was nearly perfect for the entire game despite a shaky first.
With the exception of one play, the Pride defense was perfect, committing just one error in seven innings.
The Pride, however, then found themselves in a common spot they had been in various times during the season, down after just one half inning.
Down 1-0 heading into the bottom half of the first, Pitman knew runs had to come immediately if they wished to come out on top and reverse what had occurred a year prior — a first round playoff loss by a run.
“I didn't feel any pressure because I knew what my team was capable of and I knew we could bounce back in the next inning,” said Wheeland.
Pitman's Mac Cabero found himself at third base with two outs in the bottom of the first, then Brandon Pacheco walked and stole second, setting up Nick Jones for an opportunity to go up.
Jones, on a 0-2 pitch, drilled a two-run single to take the 2-1 lead and the Pride didn't look back.
Jones followed in the third with another RBI after bringing in Daniel Fareria on a ground ball.
“Jones had some nice timely hits,” said Acha of the senior.
Fareria singled to score Cabero for the fourth run in the sixth inning and in the same inning, AJ Encalade hit an RBI double to bring in Fareria for the fifth and final run.
Wheeland threw 100 pitches and allowed just one run, walked one and struck out nine.
“I am happy that we got the win, but I think I can say for my team that we aren't satisfied. We definitely want to keep winning and progress as far as we can,” Wheeland said.
Pitman will next be at a neutral site at the University of Pacific as they take on No. 4 Bear Creek, a team that dethroned previously unbeaten Gregori prior to the start of playoffs, at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“Bear Creek has had a good year, but so have we. Playoff baseball is about limiting mistakes. If we play like we are capable, it should be a good game,” Acha added.