While two presidential candidates were holding dueling town halls Wednesday night, a rookie Atlanta Braves pitcher from Hillsborough was putting on a pitching clinic. That he was outshining a future first-ballot Hall of Fame superstar was even more impressive and unexpected.
Bryse Wilson, who made only two starts for the Braves during the regular season, pitched efficiently and with authority as he never backed down from a daunting Los Angeles Dodger offense. Wilson regularly punched in his two- and four-seamer fastballs at 95 MPH.
When he walked off the field at the end of the Dodger sixth, Wilson had given up one hit, struck out five, walked one batter, and delivered a first-pitch strike to 16 of 20 batters he faced. And he had outperformed three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
Wilson’s night was over after six nearly flawless innings, with the game tied 1-1. But the Braves’ bats came to life, scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the former Orange High School standout in position for the win.
During the game, the Fox Sports announcers heaped praise on the 22-year-old rookie who grew up in Hillsborough. Playoffs announcer Joe Buck provided a brief profile of Wilson, mentioning his days at Orange High as both a standout baseball and football player.
Wilson’s parents — wearing face masks with “Wilson” printed on them — could be seen celebrating and cheering on their son between innings or after strikeouts.
With a six-run lead, Wilson could be seen relaxing in the Atlanta dugout, clearly on Cloud Nine after a performance that was reminiscent of past Braves pitching greats, like John Smoltz. He was named Player of the Game.
When the last out was made, the Braves won the game 10-2 to take a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers, and raising the possibility of Wilson’s next start being in the World Series.