Most Viewed Stories
Ocean View pitcher keeps getting back up
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Since the very first time Braydon Salzman took the mound at the Little League World Series, the Ocean View pitcher has been getting knocked down.
Last Friday, Salzman took a line drive directly off the bill of his cap, miraculously avoiding injury. While most big-league pitchers would have been shaken up, Salzman got back on his feet and kept pitching in Ocean View's 10-0 win over Cumberland, R.I.
(Ocean View will face Billings, Mont., for the U.S. Championship on Saturday at noon. Billings defeated Ocean View, 1-0, in seven innings Wednesday night.)
Then Wednesday night, Salzman hung a breaking ball in the bottom of the seventh inning, a mistake Billings, Mont.'s Ben Askelson crushed over the left-field fence. With both of his hands on the top of his head and his eyes closed, Salzman walked off the field, having just given up the deciding hit in a 1-0 loss.
But just like he did after the line drive took him off his feet, Salzman got back up.
Called upon to get two outs to finish off the team from Clinton County, Pa. Thursday night – this time in front of a rocking crowd of 31,697.
Battling nerves and self doubt, Salzman took the ball and stepped on the mound.
"I was really nervous," Salzman said. "I was shaking out there because I didn't want to give up a walk-off again."
He didn't give up a home run, but the first batter he faced reached base on a soft infield single down the third-base line. Again, Salzman's hands went to his head in disbelief, but this time his teammates and assistant coach Jose Martinez were there to calm him down.
He said he was "very concerned" that he wouldn't be able to shake the memory of the hanging curveball that cost his team the night before, but once he threw a sharp breaking ball, a weight came off his shoulders.
"I knew the curveball was working when it just dropped in the dirt," he said.
With the count 2-2, Salzman threw the curve, missing Tallon Falls' bat for the second out of the inning.
Salzman calmly got the next batter to ground out to third, sealing the win for Ocean View.
After the game, Salzman sat in the interview room, cracking jokes with his teammates, talking about the walk-off home run like it wasn't a big deal.
When he told the press he didn't want to give up another walk-off home run, his coach, Jeff Pratto, jumped in to say: "I didn't want you to either."
Salzman laughed at the joke.
Just like he has all Little League World Series, he had gotten back up.
Contact the writer: Dwoike@ocregister.com