The public address announcer at Horseshoe Park Wednesday night couldn’t have said it any better.
In announcing the recipient of the Most Valuable Player of the 47th edition of the Morris County Baseball Tournament, the announcer said the MVP “had one of the best performances in the history of the tournament.”
Who is to argue that Roxbury senior left-hander Timmy Pilrun was not worthy of such high praise?
After all, last Saturday, Pilrun merely pitched a perfect game over Montville to get the soaring Gaels back to the MCT championship game.
Wednesday night, some 10 days after his perfecto, Pilrun was equally as flawless, pitching a two-hitter and registering nine strikeouts in leading the Gaels to a 3-1 victory over West Morris.
The win was the 17th straight for the Gaels (19-5) dating back to the first weeks of the season.
It also marked the fifth time that Roxbury claimed the MCT title, having previously won in 1996 through 1998 and in 2011. West Morris was shooting for the first county title since winning in 1995.
Pilrun (5-1) flirted with a no-hitter to back up his perfect game. He kept the Wolfpack (12-8) hitless until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Stephen McDonough hit a little dribbler in front of home plate. Pilrun fielded the ball and overthrew first base so badly that McDonough scampered all the way to third.
“I was so mad at myself that I threw that little dribbler away,” Pilrun said.
McDonough then scored on Pat Anderson’s RBI double, cutting Roxbury’s lead to 2-1.
But after Anderson’s hit, Pilrun retired the next five batters he faced to secure the victory.
“He was just as good as he was last week,” Roxbury head coach Greg Trotter said. “I started thinking, ‘Could he do it again?’ “
The Gaels wasted little time, jumping on Wolfpack starter and loser Andrew Politi in the top of the first inning.
Shawn Leydon led off the game with a single that clicked off Politi’s heel and Leydon came around to score on a clutch two-out, two-strike hit by catcher Andrew Baltz.
“That was huge,” Trotter said. “We had to prove that we could get something against this kid, who we knew was a very good pitcher. Baltz gets the two-out RBI and that’s how you win close games.”
With Pilrun in complete control, the Gaels added another run in the top of the third.
With one out, Leydon laced a double down the left field line, but he was thrown out at the plate on Dachowski’s fielder’s choice. Joe Maugeri doubled, sending Dachowski to third. West Morris head coach Dan Wydner elected to intentionally walk Baltz and that strategy backfired, when Nick Busby drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Dachowski.
The game remained that way until the Wolfpack broke up Pilrun’s attempt at the no-hitter.
The Gaels then added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning, when Stephen Loreng singled, stole second and scored on Dachowski’s single to right field.
“Stephen has been one of our most consistent players all season,” Trotter said of the sophomore third baseman. “Dach (Dachowski) had to get up there and get a pitch he could handle. He took it nicely to right field. Getting that run was huge.”
It really didn’t matter, considering the way Pilrun was pitching.
“I just stuck to my routine,” said Pilrun, who was the losing pitcher in last year’s MCT title game to Randolph by a 2-1 score. “I was mentally prepared as I could be and was ready to leave it all out there.”
As for being the tourney’s MVP?
“It’s all surreal,” Pilrun said. “It’s something that you can only dream of, when you’re 12 years old and in Little League, watching the older kids play and say, ‘I want to be like him.'”
Pilrun remembers being a freshman when the Gaels last won the MCT title in 2011.
“I remember seeing them rush on the field and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to do that someday?’ ” Pilrun said. “This is really a dream come true.”
Politi (3-3) was up for the challenge in defeat, scattering six hits in going the distance, striking out eight and walking just two, one of which was intentional.
But the night belonged to Pilrun — and deservedly so.
“Ever since we lost to Randolph last year on this field by one run, these kids have been on a mission,” Trotter said. “They feel like they’re going to win every game and they always play well defensively for that kid (Pilrun).”
Wydner had to give credit where it was due.
“He’s legit,” Wydner said of Pilrun. “He’s as good as advertised. He’s a bulldog who makes big pitches. He’s well deserving of the tourney MVP. Most high school pitchers have a tough time mastering two pitches. He throws five. You have to tip your hat to the kid, because he was that good.”
Both Trotter and Pilrun worried if the extra time off due to two prior postponements of the title game would have a negative impact on the lefty.
“Having the couple of extra days worried me,” Trotter said. “If his location was off, then that was the problem. But we could see early on that he had no issues.”
“Everyone was ready to go Saturday and we wanted to play,” Pilrun said. “When it got pushed to Sunday, then we couldn’t play Sunday, we were all kind of upset. I just tried to stick with my routine. I threw a little on the side. I felt good with my fastball. I had more velocity than normal.”
And now, Pilrun has cemented his place in Morris County history with a historic performance, one for the lifetime highlight reel.
“It’s been a phenomenal year,” Pilrun said. “We’re on a run of 17 straight. We want to keep it going. It’s just been awesome.”
Awesome — just like Pilrun’s pitching.
Roxbury (19-5) 101 000 1 – 3 6 1
West Morris (12-8) 000 001 0 – 1 2 0
2B: Rox-Shawn Leydon, Joe Maugeri; WM-Pat Anderson.
WP: Timmy Pilrun (5-1). LP: Andrew Politi (3-3).