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Wilkerson’s complete-game shutout earns him league honor

MiLB.com • Jul 24, 2017 at 11:06 PM

PEARL, Miss. — Aaron Wilkerson's pitch count stood at 97 after holding Double-A Mississippi to one hit over eight innings on Sunday. He entered the Biloxi dugout before the start of the ninth with some big ideas.

"I didn't know how many pitches I was at," Wilkerson said. "As I walked in, I saw [manager Mike Guerrero] was on the phone and I told him you can go ahead and hang that up."

The skipper obliged and the Brewers right-hander yielded one more hit before completing the first nine-inning shutout of his career in the Shuckers' 7-0 win over the Braves at Trustmark Park.

The performance earned the former Cumberland pitcher his second Southern League Pitcher of the Week award Monday.

"I felt pretty comfortable, especially having some quick innings early on really helped out," Wilkerson said. "I felt pretty good mechanically, I was pretty repeatable, so I think that played a lot. The solid defense behind me, that was key. We had some guys playing out of position today, too, and they stepped up and filled the role."

The 28-year-old threw 111 pitches in his second complete game of the season, striking out seven and walking one. He credited much of his success to the slider that he used to work off a well-commanded fastball.

"The changeup and curveball today were pretty effective but not really key parts for me," Wilkerson said. "But other than that, it was the fastball-slider combination today."

The right-hander also shut out Chattanooga on April 17, but that was a rain-shortened, five-inning game in which he gave up four hits and a walk. Sunday marked the first nine-inning complete-game shutout in Shuckers three-year history. The franchise began as the Nashville Sounds in 1978 and moved to Huntsville in 1985. But only the statistics accumulated since the move to Biloxi are counted.

Both of the hits Wilkerson gave up on Sunday came off the bat of leadoff man Jared James. The first was a ground single up the middle in the fourth the Cumberland University product retired the first nine batters in a row without recording a strikeout.

Wilkerson (9-4) worked around the hit by getting Dylan Moore to pop to the catcher, Austin Riley to go down swinging and Tyler Neslony on a bouncer to third. After a 1-2-3 fifth, he began the sixth by walking Connor Lien but got Jonathan Morales to ground into a double play.

The 6-foot-3, 190 pounder worked a perfect seventh and eighth before James lined a two-out single to right field in the ninth. Moore grounded to third to end it.

Wilkerson lowered his ERA to 3.10, which ranks ninth in the Southern League, and has 112 strikeouts over 107 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .234 batting average.

The Shuckers scored all of their runs on homers. Jacob Nottingham smacked a grand slam in the third and Johnny Davis added a three-run shot in the fourth following the first of Wilkerson's two singles.

"There's not much pressure on you as a pitcher anyway," Wilkerson said. "Good things happen when you put the ball in play."

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4.

—Gerard Gilberto

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