Friday June 15, 2012

SHEFFIELD -- Perhaps former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver said it best: "Nobody likes to hear it, because it's such a dull answer. But in baseball, the reason you win nearly every darn game is pitching."

The Mount Everett Regional High School baseball team can readily attest to the Earl of Baltimore's assertion. The Eagles stand on the brink of a state title, and while they have hit well and played extremely well in the field, their three-man pitching staff may be the biggest factor in their success.

Starters Dylan Wheeler and Eric Derwitsch are a combined 5-0 in this postseason. Reliever Eli Cook has thrown three shutout innings. They have been money in the bank.

Wheeler, a senior, and Derwitsch, a junior, have been the workhorses of the staff all season, according to Eagles coach Jesse Carpenter.

In addition to starting, Carpenter has used both in relief.

"When I pitch, Erik usually closes for me if I don't go seven, and when he pitches, I'll close for him," said Wheeler.

"But Eli is a real good pitcher, too," Carpenter said. "The three innings he's given us in this postseason have been huge. It enabled me to rest Dylan and Eric a little bit."

Derwitsch has been the more spectacular of the two: In the three complete games he pitched in the 2010 Western Mass. semifinal, the 2012 semifinal and the 2012 state semifinal, he has not allowed an earned run.

"No earned runs in 21 innings of tournament baseball is amazing," said Carpenter.

But Wheeler is generally considered the Eagles' No. 1 starter. He has been in the rotation for the past four years, said Carpenter.

"When Dylan played for us as a freshman, he was mostly a fastball pitcher," said Carpenter. "He could really bring it. But he's had some injuries, particularly to his legs, and he's had to change his approach a little bit."

Wheeler is a three-sport athlete at Mount Everett, "and he only knows one way to play -- all out," said Carpenter. "He got beat up playing soccer, and he got beat up playing basketball this year. So he had to make a few changes in his approach. He can still throw hard, but he's a little smarter."

Carpenter said Wheeler's best game of the season came against a very hot-hitting Frontier team in the Western Mass. final. Mount Everett won that game, 3-1, and Wheeler fired a two-hitter.

"He threw 68 pitches for the whole game," said Carpenter. "It was beautiful."

Derwitsch is a little craftier, said Carpenter.

"Erik makes batters hit the ball," said Carpenter. "But they can't hit it square. And he lets his teammates do their jobs. He's smart that way. Pioneer [the Eagles' Western Mass. semifinal opponent] had some big boys. They had some mashers. But they never really got hold of any of his pitches."

"Well, I really only have two pitches," said Derwitsch. "A fastball and a curve. So I don't know if I have an out pitch. Whatever Carp [coach Carpenter] tells me to throw, I throw."

So far, it's worked well.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
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On Twitter: @DerekGentile