TAMPA — The resume that Wharton junior pitcher Kyle Brett has put together in his past two outings simply has to have the other teams in the Class 6A-8 district a little worried.
Brett entered Friday's district game at Plant having earned a complete-game win against another district foe, defending 6A state champion Alonso, just six days earlier.
And at Wade Boggs Field on Friday, he gave a comparable encore, throwing his second straight complete-game victory as the Wildcats beat the Panthers 2-1. Wharton (6-5, 3-2) beat Plant for the second time, both times foiled by Brett's mix of fastballs and breaking balls.
"He gives us a chance to win every time he's on the mound," Wharton coach Scott Hoffman said. "There are no easy games in this district by any stretch of the imagination. He's the guy who is carrying us right now."
Wharton is 4-1 in games Brett has started — all five outings have been quality starts, never fewer than six innings and more than three earned runs.
"We've kind of struggled without him there," Wharton senior catcher Cory Nelson said. "It's like we're a different ball club when he's not on the mound."
Brett yielded just five hits and one run, but needed a top-of-the-seventh Wharton rally to get the win. Paced by Nelson's one-out double, the Wildcats scored the winning run on Nick Kranick's fielder's choice.
Brett (3-1, 1.75 ERA) also got help from Wildcats leftfielder and No. 9 hitter Taylor Poole, whose leadoff double in the fifth led to Wharton's first run. Poole also threw out a runner at home plate in the third that prevented Plant from going ahead 2-0.
"They're good, but when we're playing our best we can play with them all," Brett said. "We can play with anybody. I just tried to hold them as long as I could and hope we could score some runs."
Plant (4-6, 1-5) didn't help itself on the basepaths. Nelson threw out a pair of runners stealing second, and a popped-up bunt attempt led to a double play in the fifth.
But the night belonged to Brett, who after throwing just 10 innings last season, has become Wharton's unquestioned ace.
"I know what to call when he's pitching," said Nelson, his senior catcher. "Some of the younger guys, it's kind of tough to figure out what they can throw. I can call a 3-2 curveball with (Brett) any day. I have no lack of confidence in him."