Whitehouse’s Patrick Mahomes Outduels Mount Pleasant’s Michael Kopech With 16-Strikeout No-Hitter
WHITEHOUSE -- Professional baseball scouts from all over the country flocked to Whitehouse on Tuesday afternoon to see two of the nation's top high school prospects square off against one another on the mound.
It was certainly worth the trip.
Whitehouse senior Patrick Mahomes, a quarterback who signed to play college football for Texas Tech last month, wowed everyone in attendance by throwing a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in the Wildcats' 2-1 win over Mount Pleasant and fellow right-handed fireballer Michael Kopech.
In front of at least three dozen scouts each armed with radar guns, neither Mahomes or Kopech, who could be a first-round pick in June's MLB draft, disappointed. Kopech, who has signed with Arizona for baseball, touched 98 mph and Mahomes hovered between 92-95.
"Unbelievable," said Mount Pleasant coach Aaron Pearson. "There aren't many places in the nation when you have the two guys that were out here throwing today. You had 35-40 scouts sitting up in the stands and everybody got their money's worth."
Mount Pleasant's only run came courtesy of a third-inning wild pitch, which was preceded by consecutive walks to begin the inning and a sacrifice bunt. Other than that, Mahomes was untouchable.
"It's definitely the best I've felt all season," said Mahomes, who was making his third start of the season. "I've had to get control of my stuff this season. I've been working here and since before the season, getting my velocity up like it was today. I'm hard to hit."
Mount Pleasant (8-6) threatened to tie the game in the top of the seventh when Riley Greenlee led off the inning with a walk. He was erased on a caught stealing, but Mahomes issued his fourth free pass of the game to the next hitter Jordan Raney, who later moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
"Coach, came out and said, 'you're looking tired, I'm about to take you out,'" said Mahomes, who finished with 111 pitches. "I said 'let me finish this out' and he said 'if you walk one more I'm going to come get you.' All I try to do is throw strikes because I know I have such good defense behind me."
Mahomes didn't need to his defense, however, as he struck out Kobe Raney and Ryan Kelley to end the game and complete the no-hitter.
"It's crazy to look at him right now, and really the whole pitching staff," said Whitehouse coach Derrick Jenkins. "Last year at this point we'd walked a lot of batters, and this year we've cut our walks down he's cut his walks down. He's found the zone with all three pitches, and if he's in the zone and he's not walking guys and you have to earn stuff with our defense, you're going to have a hard time scoring runs."
Kopech was almost as good, allowing just two runs (one earned) on two hits with 12 strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter in six innings. Whitehouse second baseman Eric Munoz's two-out RBI single down the third-base line in the fifth broke the 1-1 tie and proved to be the difference.
"Me and Pat definitely knew what we had coming into this game," Kopech said. "He pitched a heck of a game. You'd think it's a lot of pressure, but with us two and the level that we've played at, we're used to it by now. I think you can tell by the way he pitched. I could've done a little better, but I don't think I did too bad. We handled it a lot better than a lot of people would, but it was definitely a duel."
What made Tuesday's pitching matchup even more interesting was the fact that each pitcher got to face his mound opponent in the batter's box three times. Kopech struck out in all three plate appearances against Mahomes, who reached on an error in his first at-bat vs. Kopech and struck out the last two times to the plate.
"It was a battle and we knew it was going to be a battle," Kopech said. "He's a great hitter as well, so I thought if anybody was going to get a hold of one it'd be him. I wanted to get a hold of his, but he had me beat at-bat today. He put up a fight for me, he came out on top and I respect him a lot. He's a great pitcher."
Kopech is now responsible for two-thirds of Mahomes' strikeouts at the plate this season.
"I've pitched against Kopech since we were freshmen," Mahomes said. "As we've gotten older both of us have gotten better. I played with him a little bit this summer and he's a great pitcher. He struck me out twice at the plate and I've only been struck out once the rest of the season."
After Mahomes reached base with one out in the first inning, his courtesy runner Tanner Roach came all the way around to score when Kopech's pickoff attempt sailed past the first baseman, who's throw to third skipped into left field allowing Whitehouse to take a 1-0 lead.
Mount Pleasant drew even in the third. Cullen Grubbs and Christian Moulton drew back-to-back walks to begin the inning, before moving up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Gage. Grubbs then came home on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1, but Mahomes struck out the next two Tigers hitters to escape further damage.
Whitehouse went ahead for good in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and runners at first and second, Munoz roped a single past the third baseman, which knocked in courtesy runner Brennan McDaniel. Caleb McNulty was gunned down at third just after McDaniel crossed home plate, giving Whitehouse a 2-1 lead through five.
"They scratched a run early, we came back and scratched one and they got one there in the fifth," said Pearson, whose team continues the season with home games against Pittsburg and Atlanta on Wednesday and Thursday. "If a couple things go the other way we might be on the other side of this thing."
Whitehouse had more game to play Tuesday afternoon, defeating Princeton 10-3 to run the second-ranked Wildcats' season record to 13-0.
Mahomes starred at the plate in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Nate Brooks went 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base, while Peyton Conser and Coleman Patterson each had a hit and drove in a run.
Conser picked up the win on the mound, allowing two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts and two walks in five innings. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before allowing a pair of runs in the fifth.
Whitehouse continues its season Thursday at Texas High before beginning District 16-4A play at Lindale next Tuesday night.
"I still feel like we have a long ways to go, and that's the fun part about where we're at," Jenkins said. "We're playing good enough to win games and we're doing a lot of things well here and there, but we haven't strung things together where I feel like we're where we need to be. You hope you continue to grow throughout the year, but 13-0 ain't a bad way to start."
No. 2 Whitehouse 2, Mount Pleasant 1
Mount Pleasant 001 000 0 -- 1 0 3
Whitehouse 100 010 x -- 2 2 0
Pitchers and Catchers
- Mount Pleasant: Michael Kopech and Riley Greenlee.
- Whitehouse: Patrick Mahomes and Rex Swinney.
WP -- Mahomes.
LP -- Kopech.
No. 2 Whitehouse 10, Princeton 3
Princeton 000 020 1 -- 3 6 4
Whitehouse 004 402 x -- 10 10 0
Pitchers and catchers
- Princeton: Derrick Strawn, Keanu Guastardo (4), Tyler Ford (5) and Reese Schultz.
- Whitehouse: Peyton Conser, Grant Herrington (6) and Swinney.
WP -- Conser.
LP -- Strawn.
- Whitehouse: Mahomes, Conser.
- Princeton: Strawn (seventh inning, solo).
- Whitehouse: Mahomes (fourth inning, one on).