Waddell punches Black Bears' Finals ticket

Pirates' No. 26 prospect tosses six scoreless in seventh start for club

Brandon Waddell went 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA in six regular season starts for the Black Bears. (Carl Kline/MiLB.com)

By Alex Kraft / MiLB.com | September 13, 2015 11:12 PM

Brandon Waddell lost only one playoff game in college. He's carried that big-game reputation over to the pros.

Pittsburgh's No. 26 prospect allowed two hits and a walk while fanning six over six innings Sunday as West Virginia cruised to a 4-0 Game 3 victory over Williamsport to win the best-of-3 New York-Penn League semifinals at Susquehanna Bank Park.

Waddell -- who won all five of his College World Series starts at the University of Virginia -- joined the Black Bears on July 16 after being drafted in the fifth round by Pittsburgh. Sunday's outing was his seventh with the club.

"It was awesome," the southpaw said. "First of all just to get the opportunity, but secondly to get the job done for these guys. I joined them halfway through the season, but the relationships we've already built are awesome. To be able to compete for these guys and be able to get the job done was a lot of fun and something that'll be cool to look back on."

The Texas native gave up a leadoff single to Mark Laird before setting down 15 straight Crosscutters over the first five innings. His performance took on increasing importance as Williamsport starter Mitch Gueller matched him frame for frame.

"Preparing for the game, you just have to know that it's going to be a close game, it's going to be a hard-fought game. It's not going to be one-sided with these big swings most of the time," Waddell said. "You're just prepared to bear down and be in a tough fight."

Gueller (0-1) cracked first when he surrendered a sacrifice fly to Logan Hill in the sixth. Waddell finished out the sixth, adding another strong playoff performance to his resume.

"I just have a lot of fun with them," the 21-year-old said of playing in postseason contests. "It's still going to be the same game. The atmosphere is a little different, what's on the line is a little different. The job you have and the job you're going out there to do is the same.

"I think as a competitor and a baseball player everyone wants to be in that situation and everyone wants to get the ball in that situation."

West Virginia advanced to the Championship Series against Staten Island. The series begins at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Monongalia County Ballpark.

"I think it gives us a lot of momentum," Waddell said. "We've been playing really good baseball as a team and I think the ability to carry that on will be huge.

"[The Yankees] had a couple days off, they're a little more rested than we are. We're up to the task. We'll rest a little bit on the way back and we'll get back to work tomorrow."

And if the team summons him to pitch again in the three-game Finals?

"I'll be ready whenever," he said. "If my name's called, I'll be ready."

Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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