His arm was numb, literally. For those who were at Thursday evening’s opening round sectional game between Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd at the BHS baseball complex, they probably assumed Brady Weaver’s arm was in the situation it was in from one of two things. After thirteen innings of play and watching daytime go to nighttime and the temperature go from lukewarm to where you could see your breath, it may have been the chill of the night. Or, secondly, it may have been the fact that he had just pitched 10 innings and along the way managed to throw 138 pitches.
As it turned out, it was much simpler than that.
“I’ve had this ice bag on my arm for an hour or so,” said Weaver when asked exactly why his arm was numb.
That, of course, is standard protocol for a pitcher following an outing. It’s a necessity when you turn in the performance Weaver did Thursday.
Ten innings? Think about that. That’s an amazing feat for any pitcher at any level. Even more amazing was the fact that his counterpart – Blake Kiger – was pitching the same number of innings and throwing even more pitches on the other side. Neither pitcher allowed a single runner to cross home plate.
For the most part, Weaver was in control throughout those 10 innings. And when he wasn’t, he worked his way out of any situation. Rarely, does a pitcher go 10 innings in any season. Even rarer is for a pitcher to do it twice in the same season. What’s rarer than those two scenarios? Being so dominant to pitch two 10 inning games – as he did earlier in the year against Cabel-Midland – and not walk away with a decision in one and lose by one run in the other.
“I never thought I’d be in another 10-inning game. To have it happen twice is really kind of crazy,” Weaver said. “I think I was prepared for this game because of that and in the offseason I long tossed a lot and just worked hard in the offseason in case I would need to pitch long innings. I just didn’t think I’d pitch this long twice.”
Thursday’s game turned out to be a matter of survival. Brady Weaver was up to the task. His pitches were on the money and as straight and crisp as Tyler Furbee’s beard (as legit and first-rate of a beard on a high schooler that I’ve seen in years). Yet Weaver’s pitching was better than the beard, even if it was by a whisker.
Yet, despite being the headliner in what is among the two best games I’ve ever witnessed in high school baseball involving Bridgeport High School, his first words about the pitching duel weren’t about himself. Instead, it was to his friend on the other bench.
“I guess you could say it was a duel,” Weaver stated. “(Blake is) a good guy. He pitched great. It was like his ball was moving over two inches every time it got to the plate. He’s a great pitcher.”
Of course, it should be noted for those out there still assuming that every kid who attends Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd and compete in athletics hate one another that they couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, when the two teams take the field in any sport they want to beat the other badly. And, at times, that rivalry creates tension. Unfortunately, there’s more tension amongst us so-called adults in the stands than those so-called adolescents on the field.
Weaver and Kiger know each other. In fact, they’ve competed together in the recent past. Both were members of a traveling baseball team known as the Harrison County Generals for more than a couple of years. And as any parent knows, if you’re on one of those teams the kids have no choice but to get to know each other and, as is usually the case, end up being friends.
The fact that the two pitchers respected each other only adds to the value of Thursday’s game. The fact that among Weaver’s first words following a huge win for his team by a 1-0 score were kind words for Kiger who was likely feeling as dejected as Weaver was feeling happy speaks volumes for the character of Weaver.
Of course, I don’t have to speak of that character. An appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and one to the Air Force Academy – which he accepted and will walk on to play baseball next year – says all that needs to be said about character. Getting accepted to one of those elite schools says plenty; getting accepted to two is a mouthful. When an academy comes to get you, it’s not looking for someone who can man a piece of machinery or fire it and they’re not looking for the best physical specimen on the planet. While those two issues figure into the mix, the big issue is character and what the young man represents. Weaver showed that off in spades Thursday.
There’s one other thing Weaver did that he should count on. That arm that was iced down following Thursday’s game did more than put his team in position to win. That arm provided a memory that will be forever frozen in the collective mind of Indians’ baseball fans for a long, long time.