JOPLIN — South Texas Sliders Mayer pitcher Sam Walbridge gave a performance Sunday in the title game of the Premier Baseball Junior Championship that might go down in history.

JOPLIN — South Texas Sliders Mayer pitcher Sam Walbridge gave a performance Sunday in the title game of the Premier Baseball Junior Championship that might go down in history.
Not only did he throw a four-hit complete game shutout on the biggest stage, but he told Sliders head coach Michael Robbins during the semifinals that he would go out and do just that.
Walbridge finished his title game effort with four strikeouts and no walks over six innings, as the Sliders enjoyed three solid innings offensively en route to a 8-0 run-rule win over Houston Kyle Chapman Blue. Walbridge threw 86 pitches with 64 percent of his pitch count good for strikes.
Robbins’ championship postgame interview can help set the scenario for Walbridge’s performance.
“In the long run, our overall pitching plan panned out,” Robbins said. “We thought we’d have Travis Sthele in the semis and Sam Walbridge in the finals, but Sam actually went down in our first game with some elbow soreness. We got him out in three or four hitters and we worked on him all week. He continued to stay focused and he told me today during the semifinal game, ‘Coach, I’m going to throw a complete game shutout.’ So when kids say that, you’re kinda like ‘OK, man, just give us a few good ones.’ He went out and did it, so he deserves a lot of respect.”
Walbridge could be seen treating his left elbow at the dugout steps when the Sliders were at the plate Sunday.
“I wasn’t 100 percent,” Walbridge said. “I knew that going into the game. But I knew this was a stage where I could pitch up to what I needed to do. Rather than just throwing hard, I was actually going to have to pitch and work movement and different pitches. It was a true test of toughness.”
You could have told Chapman Blue hitters that Walbridge was not 100 percent and it’s doubtful they would have believed you given the lanky lefty’s performance Sunday.
Speaking of belief, Walbridge had plenty of it on his side against Chapman Blue.
“I’m a firm believer in God and I felt like He was going to be with me during this game,” Walbridge said, “and help me get it done for the Sliders. Yeah, I guess I called it.”
Walbridge also spoke of his teammates and the late Scott Mayer, the founder of the Sliders and one of the key figures in Premier Baseball who passed away in May.
“It’s crazy,” Walbridge said. “I’ve never been closer to a group of guys and I’ve only known some of these guys for three months. They’re truly like brothers and I wouldn’t see them as anything else. This is probably the last game I’ll ever pitch in club ball and to do it on this stage and for this team and for Scott’s family … I love Scott very dearly, so to be able to honor him with this last game in my career, I’m blessed. It’s just an awesome moment.”
The Sliders won their first Premier Junior Championship title since 2015.
The Sliders plated eight runs against a Chapman Blue team who surrendered only seven runs in their previous eight games in the tournament.
“Our hitters are some of the best hitters in Premier,” Walbridge said. “I think, we’re the best hitting team in Premier. I always told ‘em, ‘We have five runs. Three more, we need three more runs and I’ll shut it out. We’re going to get this win.’ That last inning, they got three and I said that’s all I need. We got those three outs and it happened with the dogpile. It was just a great moment. It was awesome to share with all these guys.”
Walbridge, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound incoming senior at St. Mary’s Hall High School in San Antonio, has committed to the Texas Longhorns. Walbridge made his commitment in August 2017.
He’s definitely somebody to keep an eye on in the future.