EMERSON, Ga. — Sean Osceola, of the Brighton Reservation, threw a complete game shutout for SWFL Nation 2018 against the St. Louis Pirates, as his team advanced to the playoffs in the 17U WWBA National Championship in early July. SWFL left fielder Connor Berry walked with the bases loaded to score the game’s first run, and they tacked on one more in the bottom of the sixth to cap a 2-0 win at LakePoint in Georgia.
Osceola carved up the Pirates lineup all morning and punched out nine batters over his seven innings of work. The 18-year-old allowed only three hits, which amounted to four 1-2-3 innings, and he never allowed a runner past second base. He was 81-85 mph with his fastball and commanded it on both sides of the plate. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound righty needed just 79 pitches to finish off the game and seal the win for his team.
“Just getting ahead with my fastball and then when I got ahead, curveball just to keep them off balance,” said Osceola on his approach in the game. “The first three batters, they were really aggressive, so I liked to start them off with a changeup or a curveball and then after that, I’d get them guessing, so I’d just look fastball away.”
A first inning double was the only threat that amounted against Osceola, as the Pirates would go down quietly from there. Head coach Justin Karn said that Osceola has been their big game guy all season, and he was not surprised at the performance.
“That’s kind of just typical Sean right there,” Karn said. “He throws pitches with three strikes. He competes extremely hard. He’s the guy every big game we know what we’re going to get out of him just because he’s such a competitor and he has good stuff on top of it.”
While Osceola did his part on the mound, the offense needed to do their part at the plate. They would mount an attack in the third inning after Pirates started Hezekiah Goodman walked the first two batters of the inning, before a third would reach on an error. Goodman would walk in a run before being removed from the game. Although it was a great opportunity to add on, Pirates reliever Nicholas Rocco came in and induced two flyouts to escape the jam. One run would be all the team would need though, as the at-bat by Berry proved to be a crucial moment.
“Their pitchers did a really good job of keeping us off balance,” Karn said. “Threw a lot of strikes, and we’ve been pretty hot swinging the bat, and they kind of shut us down a little bit there. We were fortunate to put some balls in play when we needed to, and that’s just our approach throughout the whole year so far.”
Another run would cross the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning after Berry singled with one out in the inning. A walk to Kevin Szafran would set up the stage for Matthew Cedarburg who hit an infield single to score Berry.
“I saw that first fastball that I think I should’ve drove for a double in the gap or something, but then I kept on battling, got another fastball, fouled that one off, and then he came back with another fastball and I just tried putting it in play, help my team out, and I got a hit out of it,” Cedarburg said.
The run would provide insurance for Osceola on the mound, who set the Pirates down 1-2-3 to lock down the win. Although he was cruising, the run gave him that much more room for error.
“It made me feel really good for the seventh. I knew I didn’t have to be too fine,” Osceola said. “I just let them put the ball in play and then my defense can make the plays behind me.”
This article was reprinted with permission from Perfect Game and was written by Steven Walters.