ENID, Okla. — When Brandon Hudson takes the mound for Northern Oklahoma College Enid, he treats every opponent and every batter the same.
"We all put our pants on the same way," Hudson said.
Even Pearl River, the top seed in the NJCAA Division II World Series, had little to no effect on Hudson's mind. The Wildcats high-scoring offense was unable to rattle the freshman right-hander as he nearly went the distance in a 4-2 win Monday night in front of a packed David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
Hudson tossed 8 2/3 innings, holding Pearl River to just two runs — one earned — on three hits, four walks while striking out 10. The dominant performance was without a doubt his best of the year with season-highs in strikeouts and innings pitched.
"Man, what a heckuva job out of him," NOC Enid head coach Raydon Leaton said.
Leaton wanted Hudson to go the distance for the Jets, but had no choice but to take him out with two runners on in a two-run game.
"He was gassed," Leaton said. "That's the most pitches he's thrown. We figured we've got him one time this tournament and we kind of extended him to do that. We wanted him to get the complete game, but at the same time we trust our bullpen."
With Hudson performing at his peak, the Jets improved to 2-0 this Series and advanced deeper into the winner's bracket. As for Pearl River, it now faces elimination throughout the rest of the tournament following the loss.
The Wildcats (41-13) held a slim 2-1 advantage through three innings as both starting pitchers kept the damage to a minimum. After a scoreless first inning, Pearl River scored the game's first run off an RBI single by Kasey Donaldson, scoring Dexter Jordan from third. Jordan reached on an error to start the frame.
In the top of the third, the Jets (40-17) answered as E.J. Taylor recorded his 46th RBI of the season on a 2-out double down the left field line.
The Wildcats regained the lead in the bottom half as Wiley Cleland singled to left, scoring Luke Harper.
Nine of first 24 batters in the game got on base, but only three came around to score. Five base runners were left stranded, including two in scoring position.
NOC Enid again tied the game, 2-2, with two outs in the top of the fifth. After Seth Graves reached on an error, D.J. Calvert sent a liner deep into the gap in right center for an RBI triple, his fifth of the season.
Pearl River threatened to score in the bottom half as Hudson loaded the bases with two outs. However he was able to get out of the jam forcing Jordan into a fly out to Tanner Neely in right.
Hudson appeared to get better as the game continued. He had four 1-2-3 innings Monday, two of which came after the halfway mark. On fifteen occasions Hudson got a Wildcat batter out with three pitches or less.
"I didn't have my fastball that fast tonight, but when it wasn't working I could come back with a slider and they were swinging at their shoes for it," Hudson said.
Hudson’s command on the mound allowed the Jets to take control offensively. NOC Enid had the bases loaded with zero outs in the seventh when Pearl River relief pitcher Jerod Meggs tossed a wild pitch to the backstop, which allowed Brendon Woelfle to score.
The Jets added another run as Calvert grounded out to shortstop. Pinch runner Shane Nixon had enough of a jump to score without a throw home. NOC Enid led 4-2 heading into the seventh inning stretch.
The only bases runners Hudson allowed in the final three innings reached as the result of either a walk or being hit by a pitch. Pearl River's last hit off Hudson was the RBI single in the third inning.
Pearl River head coach Michael Avalon gave credit to Hudson after the game for holding the Wildcats' offense to a pair of runs.
"At any level, if you can throw the breaking ball like he did tonight, it's going to be tough," Avalon said. "Obviously not seeing him before and not knowing much about him, he did a really good job against our hitters.
Avalon felt the Wildcats had opportunities to get to Hudson, but were unable to make the plays.
Pearl River is scheduled to face No. 8 Pasco-Hernando (33-24) Tuesday at 1 p.m. at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. NOC Enid gets an off day before taking on the winner of Pearl River / Pasco-Hernando Wednesday.
"The off day is huge," Leaton said. "Otherwise you're turning around in less than 12 hours and going to play with your backs against the wall in and elimination game. The day off was well earned and we'll take it."