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It was too easy for Nate

August 1, 2019

 The calm Merrimack River ran its river ways on another summer evening. Patios were busy in the downtown city streets of New Hampshire. The sun was about to set across the sky casting those beautiful colours that Bob Ross liked to mix on his paint board. It was a perfect evening in a calm corner of America. A calm corner of the world. 

 

***

 

On July, 24th, 2019, baseball fans in New Hampshire headed to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium to watch their Fisher Cats. 

 

4,518 humans. And one Nate Pearson.

 

The Merrimack River danced that evening. The bars and restaurants were alive. But the night belonged to something bigger than all of that.

 

The night belonged to Nate.

 

It was his alone; his nature-like force. A force that doesn't seem humanly possible. He made it look easy.

 

Baseball isn't meant to be easy.

 

***

 

Shadows slowly swallowed up the infield, as Nate warmed up before his start. Bends. Curves. And heat. 

 

Pearson's night was about to begin. 

 

He dug his right foot into the dirt on the mound. The leather on the side of his cleat kissed the slab. He looked at his first victim, Michael Taylor, the Harrisburg Senators leadoff hitter.

 

Nate wasted no time, set, and delivered.

 

Taylor took a 94-mph fastball inside.

 

Nate's next pitch: two-seams, swung and driven out to left field. Caught. 

 

Up next: Luis Garcia, who Baseball America says is the third best prospect in the Nationals system.

 

First pitch: 96-mph fastball that hit the outside corner for a strike. 

Second Pitch: Slider in the dirt.

Third Pitch: Wild and low.

 

(perfect pitching is imperfect)

 

Fourth Pitch: Swing-and-miss fastball. 

Fifth pitch: 99-mph fastball, fouled off.

 

Garcia was fighting during this at-bat. He stepped out of the batter's box frustrated by Pearson's offerings. He stepped back in. He was probably wondering what he would see next. Maybe another fastball. Maybe a slider. He might have been thinking that this is the best pitcher he had seen all season. He took a deep breath, hit the middle of the plate with his bat, and looked 60 feet and six inches at a the six-foot-six righty standing on the dirt hill.

 

Garcia would line the next pitch to shortstop Kevin Smith.

 

He put up one of the better fights against Pearson that evening. Maybe the best. He hit the ball hard. He just hit it right at the Fisher Cats infielder. 

 

Up next: Dante Bichette Jr., older brother of Bo. 

 

First Pitch: Changeup, dropped in for a strike.

Second Pitch: Fastball, weak contact, up the middle, another easy out. 

 

Too easy for Nate. 9 pitches, 3 outs. 

 

***

 

The Fisher Cats scored a run in the bottom half of the first.

 

Nate watched from the dugout.

 

15 minutes later, he walked back out to the mound. 

 

Pearson's first pitch was hit to Kevin Smith. 

 

One pitch, one out.

 

A total of ten pitches for 4 outs.

 

Harrisburg's catcher, Tres Barrera, stepped into the box next. He had probably been warned about Nate's fastball. He probably asked Taylor, Garcia, and Bichette Jr. about what to look for - if maybe Nate revealed his four-seam out of the glove. Any little thing that could help.

 

But I'm not sure any information really matters when Nate has a feel for the ball though. Any information that baseball players pass back and forth about Nate during a game isn't going to help. It’s almost physically impossible to hit high-90s paint. Curves that bend. Speeds that change. Unruly. 

 

Barrera watched a 97-mph fastball brush the corner. 

 

Strike.

 

Nate looked at Riley Adam's sign. He liked what his catcher flashed: A breaking ball. 

 

Nate didn't get the call. 

 

Ball.

 

Next pitch, another curve. Questionable. 

 

It looked like a strike.

 

Next pitch, an up-and-in fastball. 

 

Ball three.

 

Maybe Nate's not going to be perfect tonight.

 

Next pitch, outside, ball 4. 

 

A free pass on five pitches. 

 

It was Nate's only scar on the scorecard.

 

The rest of the night was pitching poetry.

 

***

 

First baseman, Ian Sagdal, was the next Senator to set foot in between the white chalk lines. 

 

The first pitch was a backdoor breaking ball for a strike because Nate doesn't need to paint with just orange and red colours.

 

It's not all fire and flames. He can mix it up. Use soft colours.

 

Nate isn't unoriginal. 

 

He carves his own path to the plate. 

 

Sagdal would foul off the next pitch, a fastball.

 

He'd try to keep his eye on the third pitch, which was a 99-mph fastball, just low for a ball.

 

Next pitch, Sagdal tried to check his swing, but he went around. He didn't argue. He walked off the field. 

 

That was Pearson's first strikeout of the night. 

 

He would strike out seven more. 

 

At this point in the game, it didn't matter who was standing in the box. Nate was about to put on a show. Nate was about to bend things his way. And I was about to watch the best pitching performance I have seen all year.

 

His next pitch was a tight slider that caught the corner of the plate for a strike. 

 

That was the beginning of a night of flames, benders, and confusion, as the Senators hitters never had a chance.

 

Every pitch from that moment on, perfect.

 

***

 

The sun was starting to touch the horizon and long shadows were casted onto the field, as the night was slowly sliding into New Hampshire. And as the darkness started to take over the sky, Nate continued spinning them in there for strikes, hard and soft, bending them home. 

 

100, 101, 99, and then a mid-80s slider. In that order. Too easy for Nate. 

 

Unfair for Harrisburg. 

 

Red jersey's walked out of the visitor's dugout, bat in hand, heading into battle against Pearson. 

 

A long days journey into night. A one-sided fight.

 

There would be no young David. Goliath was on the mound. Goliath threw the baseball hard. Goliath changed speeds. Goliath located. And all the Davids swung and miss. Their bats useless sling shots that slung nothing. 

 

This time the giant won.

 

One red jersey would walk out of the dugout and then walk back, defeated. 

 

Stepping in, stepping out.

 

And Nate stood there like a pitching God that climbed out of the Merrimack River. 

 

King of the night. 

 

***

 

Nate lasted 5.2 innings, he threw 74 pitches, 56 of those were strikes.

 

Bends, curves, and heat. 

 

He gripped the baseball that night, dug his fingers into the seams, and proved that he was one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball - not that anyone doubted that.

 

On a night where Fisher Cat fans received a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bobblehead, they went home realizing that they witnessed one of the most dominating pitching performances they have seen in New Hampshire.

 

They witnessed the Blue Jays' future number 1 prospect pound the zone, mix up speeds, and paint a canvas of flames and confusion. 

 

On July, 24th, it was too easy for Nate.  

 

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