Tournaments : : Story
Saturday, June 09, 2012

Perfection and a no-no in 17u/18u

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. - Working under a hot Georgia sun Saturday afternoon, a couple of Georgia schoolboy pitchers decided it was time to shine at the 17u/18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational.

Nick Oberry, a 2014 left-hander from Hogansville, Ga., threw a six-inning perfect game for the East Cobb Blue Jays in an 8-0 first round playoff win over the SC Shockwave 17U (American) in a game played at North Cobb Christian High School.

At the same time Oberry was practicing perfection, Roswell, Ga., 2012 right-hander Joseph Wiseman was in the process of no-hitting Homeplate Chili Dogs Childs in a 6-0 win in another 17u/18u PG-EC Invitational first-round playoff game on Field 3 at the East Cobb Baseball Complex.

Oberry, who stands just 5-foot-6 and weighs 160-pounds, pitched the Blue Jays into the quarterfinal round of the tournament where they faced the East Cobb Yankees 17u Saturday night. He sat down all 18 Shockwave 17U (American) batters he faced, striking out 10 in the process.

"I was just another game, really," Oberry said with a smile as his team prepared to play its quarterfinal game. "I knew warming up that my arm felt good after not pitching for a couple of days; in high school I had to pitch every third day and I don't get that rotation up here. There's a lot of good pitchers and I'm about the third man in the rotation.

"I went out there and threw a lot of strikes and there was great defense (behind me).  At Perfect Game (tournaments) it's definitely a team performance and not just the pitcher."

No one seemed totally shocked by Oberry's outing.

"It really didn't surprise me," Blue Jays head coach Chris Butler said. "He comes from a small (Georgia) Double-A school but he threw a no-hitter in the quarterfinals (of the state playoffs) and he lost with a one-hitter. This kid gets after it every day, so he's been pretty successful.

"He's just a hard-nosed kid who gets right to work. He just loves to throw the baseball every day," Butler continued. "He goes after everybody. He's not afraid to go after any hitter, ever."

The Blue Jays have been getting outstanding pitching from their entire staff at this tournament: eight hurlers have combined to allow 17 hits and three earned runs (0.86 ERA) with 32 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.

As for Oberry, he was just doing what he does best.

"I was spotting fastballs," he said. "Throwing 84 mph at Perfect Game usually means (the pitcher) has a really good spot-up on his fastball. It was the fastball and then just breaking the curveball off and hoping the defense would back me up.

"I started thinking about it in the fifth and the sixth because I really wanted to go out there in the seventh and get that complete game." The game was called after six innings when the Blue Jays took an eight-run lead.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Wiseman threw a complete game seven-inning no-hitter in his team's first-round win, striking out five and walking two. He wasn't available for comment before the Astros 17/18u's quarterfinal game against the East Cobb Astros 16u, but his catcher Carson Waln (2013, Atlanta) offered some insight.

"He really had his slider working today," Waln said. "I first started catching him in the fall and this is probably the fourth time I've caught him. It's great working with these all guys and I think we feel pretty comfortable with each other."

EC Astros 17/18u head coach Russ Dickerson has come to expect that kind of performance from Wiseman.

"That's how he always throws; that's how our whole pitching staff throws," Dickerson said. "That's nine games in row now that we've given up one run or less, so I actually expect it out of our staff because they've been throwing the ball like that all summer. They give us a chance to win every single game.

"I'm not shocked because Joe has that kind of stuff and he can beat anybody at any given time."

Just like Butler with the Blue Jays, Dickerson has gotten excellent pitching from his entire staff throughout this tournament, and even in the weeks leading up to here. Six of his pitchers, including Wiseman, had combined to throw 25 innings through the first-round playoff game and had surrendered just eight hits and three earned runs (0.84 ERA) while striking out 24.

"(Wiseman)  threw the ball better today than he did his last outing, but overall he's been throwing like that every time out," Dickerson said. "This pitching staff as a whole have done that all summer; we've played 16 games and we've yet to give up more than two runs in a game. They're giving us a chance to win and that's all I ever ask for."


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