Double trouble

Even the good folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, who are adept at finding the most minute statistical occurrences in baseball history, might have a difficult time locating another day like the one Wyatt Williams had last weekend.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Melrose freshman Wyatt Williams, shown pitching in the Buffaloes' game on Saturday at Texico, threw a five-inning perfect game in the opener of a doubleheader against Grady and then hit for the cycle in the second game.

Of course, Williams isn't a major leaguer. But the Melrose freshman's performance in a doubleheader last weekend against Grady was uncommon on almost every level.

In the first game, a 24-0 rout administered by the Buffaloes, Williams was on the mound for all five innings. Though it was shortened by the mercy rule, Williams did strike out nine and did not allow a runner to get to first base in throwing a perfect game.

In game 2, a Melrose blowout to the tune of 19-2, Williams let his bat do the talking. In a contest where he was 5-for-5 at the plate, the frosh standout hit for the cycle — swinging for a single, two doubles, a triple and a home run.

When it was all over, Williams had accomplished two of baseball's most unusual feats in the same day.

"When it was going on, it was like, 'Really?'" said Melrose coach Jim Doherty.

And, yes, the accomplishment does mean something to a kid who's only in the ninth grade. That's because Williams counts himself a baseball fan for as long as he can remember and, in general, baseball fans understand the importance of some statistics.

"I've got to give the credit to my teammates." he said. "They made some great plays out in the field that day."

Indeed, the perfect game wouldn't have happened if not for a great catch by Braden Hemminger in center field, or an equally noticeable effort by right fielder Gage Dietz — who charged an apparent single to right by a Grady player and suddenly threw to first to beat the runner.

But Williams had something to do with it, too. Although he calls teammate Brian Hemminger the "ace" of the pitching staff, he combined with Hemminger earlier in the season for a no-hitter and, in a solo effort, struck out 17 in a strong outing against San Jon.

"Sometimes he's just lights out," Doherty said.

In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Williams started the game with a double before reaching base with a single and a double. Williams' next hit saw him touch 'em all as he drove the ball for a home run.

All that was left was a triple and when Williams got that to finish the day, Doherty gave him the news when he reached the dugout.

"It was in the back of my head, but I didn't say anything," Doherty said.

Williams simply didn't realize what he'd done.

"At the time, I didn't think that much about it," Williams said. "Then I found out when I came off the field."

Williams isn't the only freshman to get significant playing time for the Buffs this year. Four others are in the starting lineup with Williams, and two more make contributions off the bench.

Last year, Melrose made it to the state semifinals before losing to Floyd. Now that the core of young players has a year under its collective belt, confidence is high for doing even better.

And that's fine with Doherty, who is also the boys basketball coach at Melrose.

"These kids like baseball," he said. "Being the basketball coach, you can see they have more confidence in this. And hopefully, that will translate to next year."

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