For a sophomore pitcher, starting a state tournament game can be an intimidating experience. It’s win or your season ends.
But Riverside-Brookfield High School sophomore Wyatt Murphy was more than up to the task May 25, tossing a one-hit shutout as the Bulldogs defeated Argo 6-0 to advance to the IHSA regional championship game against Whitney Young on May 28.
“I was feeling a little pressure at the beginning, but then I saw all my guys doing the job out there,” Murphy said.
Murphy (6-0) didn’t allow a hit until one out in the seventh inning. His fastball and changeup kept the Argo hitters off balance throughout the game.
“My changeup today was working like a miracle today, up until the last inning really,” Murphy said. “It was moving the most it ever has.”
Murphy was aware he was pitching a no-hitter when he took the mound in the seventh. But after getting one out, he hit a batter and then Israel Munoz smacked a line drive single to center to break it up.
“I was thinking about that a little,” Murphy said. “I think that was why I gave up a hit. I was trying to get a no-hitter and I got a little in my head but, you know, things happen.”
Murphy didn’t allow the hit to faze him, inducing a fly out and a fielder’s choice grounder to third to end the game.
Second baseman Rex Dockendorf put the Bulldogs ahead in the second inning with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Sean McDermott who had led off with a double.
But Argo (3-21) starter Kaden Jurgens kept the game close until the fifth when the Bulldogs (29-5) erupted for four runs. Right fielder Jake Tyler led off the fifth with a walk. Senior catcher Brian Twomey then smacked a line drive two-run home run over the left field fence to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead and some breathing room.
“Just got a hold of it, ran into it,” Twomey said. “Been working on some things in batting practice and everything came to fruition in that moment in a pretty big game where I needed it.”
After Jurgens struck out Conner Chapulis and Luke Yachnin, senior Owen Murphy singled and stole second. Third baseman Cooper Marrs, who had made a lunging grab to this left to snare a line drive headed for left field in the top of the inning, drove in Murphy with a single and then Marrs scored on an error.
The Bulldogs added their final run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Twomey, who had three RBI in the game. Twomey also picked a runner off second base in the fifth with a good throw to shortstop Owen Murphy. Twomey and Murphy had noticed that Argo runner Alex Vasquez, who had been hit by a pitch and reached second with a stolen base, had strayed far off second base on the previous pitch.
“We got a little cue to do it,” Twomey said. “We saw it get too big. He was at the right spot at the right time. I made a good enough throw where he put down the tag and got the guy.”
Wyatt Murphy (6-0) struck out seven, walked one and hit two batters while dropping his earned run average to just 1.85. Despite being unbeaten, Wyatt Murphy has been overshadowed this year by his older brother, Owen, who is considered one of the top two high school players in Illinois and has only allowed one earned run all season while hitting .567.
Wyatt understands why Owen gets so much attention from scouts and fans.
“He’s up there, he’s an amazing player, it’s expected for that to happen,” he said.
Owen Murphy is expected to be on the mound May 28 as the Bulldogs try to capture its first regional championship since 2104 when they take on host Whitney Young at 11 a.m.