Cooper Brune had a hunch during his pregame bullpen session that Wednesday night had a chance to be special. He just didn’t realize how flawless he’d pitch.
The Ocean Springs right-hander flirted with a perfect game at Harrison Central but settled for a 2-0 victory after surrendering a double with one out in the seventh inning.
“I was just feeling good. It was a good night,” said Brune, who improved to 2-0 on the season. “Everything felt great and lined up tonight.”
Brune did well mixing his fastball and curveball. He routinely pitched from a position of strength, getting ahead of Harrison Central’s batters, and finished with 10 strikeouts.
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“He was lights out. He had a perfect game going right there until we gave up that double in the last inning, but that’s Cooper Brune,” OSHS coach Brian Rea said. “He has been doing that for us for his entire career. He was sharp tonight. He was down in the zone and throwing his breaking ball for a strike. He has an out pitch and when he gets you with two strikes we feel pretty good about what he’s going to do to you.”
Brune admitted he got a little nervous in the seventh inning when he realized what was at stake, surrendering a double into the right-center gap from HCHS third baseman Logan Virgilio. Brune buckled down to retire the final two Red Rebels (2-4), preserving the Greyhounds’ (3-5) second shutout of the season.
“Their kid did what we said he was going to do. He’s going to throw strikes, throw hard and he’s not going to throw many balls,” HCHS coach Pat Olmi said. “We just couldn’t figure him out. He stepped up. That’s what it’s all about.”
Much of Wednesday’s makeup game — which was pushed a day due to Tuesday’s rain — featured a pitcher’s duel. Brune came the closest to perfection, but Harrison Central’s Brett Hughes wasn’t chopped liver, either. Hughes took a perfect game into the fifth before plunking Ocean Springs’ Austin Cates in the helmet with one out. An error followed and then, with the runners in motion, Malcolm Beaugez slashed the ball into left field. Jordan Harris charged in on the ball and narrowly made a highlight reel grab. Instead, the ball bounced just wide of the diving Harris, allowing both runners to score.
“(Hughes) threw real well. I hate for a pitching performance like that to go to waste,” Olmi said. “We didn’t put any pressure on them or get them out of their comfort zone and then we don’t make a play there and when two teams are evenly matched and one team makes a mistake, it’s going to come back to get us. That’s what happened.”
Brune, a Jones County Junior College signee, has yet to surrender an earned run this season. Hughes struck out seven in the loss.