WEST DEPTFORD – Drew Wilden hasn’t thrown a lot of innings in his brief high school career.
A sophomore on the West Deptford baseball team, the left-hander has been used primarily out of the bullpen. Thursday marked just his second start of the season and third overall at the varsity level.
With scouts behind home plate from the University of Maryland and Old Dominion, Wilden didn’t disappoint.
With the Eagles in need of someone to eat innings, Wilden allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in six innings of work. He had command of his fastball, while mixing in a nice assortment of curveballs and changeups.
Wilden would leave the game with a six-run lead and got the decision as West Deptford held off a furious two-out, seventh-inning rally by Haddon Township for an 8-7 Colonial Conference victory.
“If he leaves him in, the comeback doesn’t happen,” Haddon Township coach Doug Richardson said. “He was pitching pretty well.
“Walks and errors hurt us early. We struggled to score runs before we came back. Unfortunately it was six innings too late.”
The Hawks rallied in their final at-bat, highlighted by Mike Lovett’s grand slam to left field. The blast cut the deficit to one run, but reliever Walt Vickery was able to regroup and strike out the potential tying run.
Vickery would strike out the side.
West Deptford (10-4), No. 15 in the Courier-Post Top 15, built a 7-2 lead after four innings. The Eagles broke a 2-2 tie with five runs on four hits and two errors. Vickery, Wilden and Isaiah Easterling had RBI singles in the frame.
The victory was big for a team looking to bounce back from a tough nonleague loss to Deptford on Wednesday night. With a week loaded with games, coach John Oehler turned to Wilden in hopes of getting quality innings.
“We needed him to throw and go the distance. It was huge with us having a long week and games Friday and this weekend,” Oehler said. “He’s definitely one of our top arms. He’ll continue to get starts and come out of the pen. In both roles he’s very good.
“He pitched great. He stayed ahead in the count. He had a real good feel for his offspeed pitches and believes he can throw his curveball at any time and his change-up at any time.”
Wilden admitted to being a little nervous. He knew college scouts with their radar guns were on hand.
“I tried to keep it out of my mind,” he said. “Once I got three outs in the first inning, I didn’t think about them. I calmed down throughout the game and just settled in.
“We needed to bounce back from (Wednesday’s) loss and I just tried my best to get us the win. I tried to throw strikes and was pretty confident. My fastball was working well and my curve was here and there.”
Said Oehler: “With two schools looking, most kids would have tightened up. Drew was very fluid and he’s very mature for his age. He did a good job of staying focused. He got ahead in the count and that was one of the biggest keys.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2432; email@example.com
WEST DEPTFORD 8
HADDON TWP. 7
• Player of the game: Sophomore lefty Drew Wilden struck out 10 and allowed just two hits in six innings.
• Play of the game: Mike Lovett’s two-out grand slam in the top of the seventh quickly made things very interesting for Haddon Township.
• Well said: “I calmed down throughout the game and just settled in.” — Drew Wilden