Pressure is to Brendan Wetmore what spinach is to Popeye.
“I don’t get nervous when there’s pressure; I actually like it, it makes me stronger,” said Wetmore, moments after his complete-game five-hitter lifted Westland John Glenn to a 1-0 victory over Canton in a high-intensity Division 1 pre-district baseball game played under ominous skies at Plymouth. “After the first few innings, I knew it was going to be a low-scoring game, but we buckled down and got the run we needed.”
Although his record improved to a modest 5-4, the wiry lefty, has been money every time he’s taken the mound this spring, never having yielded more than two earned runs.
A four-year varsity player, Wetmore had not experienced a district win prior to Tuesday since his freshman season at John Glenn.
“I’m proud of all of our seniors, but especially Brendan because he’s been working his tail off the past four years,” said John Glenn head coach Lawrence Scheffer. “We’ve been preaching pitching and defense all season and we knew coming into today those two things would be important because we knew we’d be facing a tough pitcher.”
Canton starter Nick Sprosek was Wetmore’s equal all afternoon. The crafty righty yielded just three hits and four walks while striking out six.
“Nick did a nice job for us,” said Canton head coach Mark Blomshield, whose team finished 19-15. “He kept the ball down most of the day and gave us a chance. Their guy did a nice job, too. We had a couple decent scoring chances that we didn’t take advantage of. That’s baseball.”
The game’s only run scored in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Wetmore ripped a double up the right-center field gap. He then scored when Noah Damian reached on a throwing error.
Brian Martin singled to put runners on first and third with one out, but Sprosek got the next Rocket to hit into a 6-4-3 double-play.
The Chiefs threatened to deadlock the game in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Andrew Loehnis singled, Noah Spencer walked and they both moved up a base on a daring double-steal. However, Wetmore doused the rally when he got Sprosek to ground out to second base.
Canton ramped up the pressure again in the top of the seventh when Aaron Miller opened the frame with his second single of the day. Pinch-runner Jake O’Donnell advanced to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Michael Flaishans, but Wetmore got Loehnis to fly out to left before Spencer hit a rocket to left-center that Jacob Damian chased down about 20 feet short of the fence.
“The last guy up wasn’t hitting my curveball too well, but [the home-plate umpire] wasn’t giving me the corner so I had to focus on spotting my fast ball,” Wetmore said. “Right when he he hit it, I knew it was high, and I thought it might be a double, but Jacob ran it down and I thought to myself, ‘There you’ go!’ It was about time we won one of these games.”