Hillsborough native, Orange High alum, and Atlanta Braves pitcher Bryse Wilson pitched the game of his life Thursday night. Wilson pitched six strong innings against a dangerous Los Angeles Dodgers lineup to earn the win and push the Braves to one win shy of the World Series. Not bad for a 22 year old.
Prior to the game, Wilson was asked if he could have imagined this moment, starting Game 4 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), after a COVID-shortened season in which he only made two starts, and six total pitching appearances, at the big-league level.
“Not in a million years,” he told media members.
The righthander looked like he belonged Thursday night, making it through the six frames on just 74 pitches, 50 of which he threw for strikes. Wilson surrendered one hit, walked a batter, and struck out five. He stood in line to win the ballgame when Freddie Freeman doubled home a run in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.
In the first inning, with a fierce wind swirling at Global Life Field in Arlington, Texas—home to the Texas Rangers and the neutral site of the NLCS—Wilson started Game 4 in dominant fashion. He got out of the first inning, three up, three down, on just nine pitches. It seemed to calm any nerves the young pitcher may have had after not having pitched in a big league game since Sept. 27. Wilson rode that confidence and began to attack the zone relentlessly—his fastball routinely reached 96 miles-per-hour, while his changeup and slider helped keep the Dodgers’ hitters off balance.
Wilson’s lone blemish on the evening was a home run swatted by Dodgers designated hitter Edwin Rios. Still, Wilson bounced back and retired 12 of the next 13 hitters. That allowed the Braves to stage a comeback: designated hitter Marcell Ozuna tied the game, 1-1, with a home run to left center in the fourth inning, while Freeman’s double made it 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. The Braves added on, and by the time the sixth inning finally ended, Wilson was out of the game, and the Braves held a secure 7-1 lead. The Braves won 10-2
Wilson outdueled three-time Cy Young Award Winner, former National League MVP, and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, who continued his run of less-than-stellar postseason starts. Kershaw gave up four runs in five-plus innings of work.
Unlike in the American League Championship Series, some fans have been allowed to attend the NLCS due to Texas’s relatively lax pandemic restrictions. Bryse’s parents, Chad and Tracey, were shown in the stands throughout the broadcast, cheering on their son. Bryse’s mother was wearing a face mask with “Wilson” printed on it.
Another special moment for Hillsborough came when Fox Sports baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal shouted out former Orange High football coach Pat Moser, quoting Moser in saying Wilson was the “best football player” he ever coached. Rosenthal later clarified that Bryse’s younger brother Payton Wilson—now a linebacker at NC State—was the better athlete, but that Bryse was “more competitive.” The claim probably did not shock those who remember Wilson’s exploits on the football field—the multi-sport superstar racked up scholarship offers from multiple Division I football programs. He ultimately committed to UNC-Chapel Hill to play baseball prior to signing with the Braves after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft.