HILLSBOROUGH — East Chapel Hill can expect to see more of Bryse Wilson in the next couple of years.
Behind a strong day from Wilson, a 6-1 freshman right-hander, Orange High blanked East Chapel Hill 4-0 in the championship game of the American Division in the annual Hilltop Invitational Tournament.
Wilson was also on the mound when Orange beat ECH 3-0 in March. In that first game, he struck out eight of the 21 batters he faced.
Saturday night at Orange, Wilson (6-0) struck out six of 21 batters, walking two and giving up just two hits. Jonah Neville finished off the Wildcats with a scoreless seventh.
The Panthers’ offensive production was more than enough for Wilson. Andrew Toney went 3-for-3 and Nick Debo homered in the fifth.
“You gotta tip your hat to Bryse,” East Chapel Hill coach Phil Woodell said. “That’s two games his really pitched well against us. He’s a freshman and he’s got a really good future. Our kid, (Connor Stough) was a freshman we put out there on the bump, and that was his best outing of the year.”
Stough also had one of the Wildcats’ three hits in the game when he singled in the top of the sixth. Wilson quickly thwarted the momentum when he started a 1-5-3 double play in the next at bat.
The middle of the Panthers’ batting order provided all the damage offensively. Nick Debo was 1-for-3 with 2 RBI. Andrew Toney went 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Brad Debo was 1-2 also with an RBI.
Saturday capped a great weekend for Nick Debo, who drove in four runs in a 6-5 win over Cary and then went 2-3 with a two RBI in a 6-3 win against West Forsyth in the second round.
The Panthers (12-1) got on the board early Saturday night when in the bottom of the first inning when Nick Debo scored Jon Evans on a groundout. Debo also homered in the bottom of the fifth inning to pad the OHS lead.
“It was hard-fought — the weather and the teams we face,” Orange coach Dean Dease said, noting the tournament’s slow start with a cold and rainy first day. “The players worked hard, not only getting prepared for this tournament but they were here Friday morning at eight or nine o’clock in the morning and we didn’t leave that night until 10, basically.
“So the credit goes to them for getting the tournament in and for playing so well.”
Though the Wildcats (7-6) fell in the title game, Woodell said the team played pretty good baseball for the weekend overall. The three-game weekend allowed the Wildcats to explore their depth on the mound and they found a strong performance from Stough in the final.
“Our guys have worked hard this weekend,” Woodell said. “It’s been a long week — fighting the rain and the weather and being out at the field for basically three days. A long weekend, I’m sure some kids would have rather been at the beach.
“But they came out and it was a good week, it was good for our club.”
East Chapel Hill reached the finals with solid wins over two good programs: 4-3 in eight innings over Maury (Va.), a game finished on Friday because of a cold rain on the HIT’s opening day; and 7-5 over South Granville, which was last year’s Carolina-12 champion.
Bennett Byerley hit a walk-off, RBI single in the eighth to spark East to the win over Maury. Jamari Burk and Ian Breakfield both went 2-4 in game 2 to key that win.
The first win was a bit costly, with starting pitcher John Page knocked out of the game by a hard line drive that hit his elbow. He’ll be out “a couple of weeks,” Woodell said.
The good news for the Wildcats included the emergence of freshman Sean Moore, who entered both of East’s first two games late, saw the opponents move in front each time, then held on to record two wins in one day.
Dease also said he was impressed with his team’s pitching performances. He considers his pitching staff, which has only one senior, to be young, but with the help of pitching coach Richard Reynolds, they have been developing nicely.
That was on display in the HIT as the Panthers allowed just 13 hits in the three games. Dease would like to see that continue as the Panthers – ranked No. 5 in the state by Impact.com – have other goals in mind.
“I told them they worked hard, they deserved it,” Dease said. “It was well-deserved but I told them, ’let’s use this as a stepping stone to continue on and get better and improve, because that (HIT) trophy right there is nice, but we might want something that says NCHSAA on it. If we can.’”
In the HIT’s National Division, Southern Alamance won their fifth straight game by downing Durham Jordan 15-7 for the division championship. Chapel Hill finished fourth, falling 6-2 to 4A Jordan in the semifinals and then to 4A Northern Durham 14-11 in the final round.