Chuck Landon: Milum’s name worth remembering
CHARLESTON - Remember this name.
Trust me, everyone is going to hear about this Wayne County athlete during the next three years.
That’s right, the next three years.
That’s because this 6-foot-4, 225-pound - and still growing - left-hander might look like a man, throw like a man and hit like a man, but he’s not.
In truth, Milum is merely a smooth-faced ninth-grader.
Yep, the only thing he can drive is a hanging curve over the fence.
Of course, that didn’t matter to the college coaches attending the State High School Baseball Tournament in Appalachian Power Park. They came to watch the precocious Milum pitch in Wayne’s 7-6 victory in nine innings Friday against Frankfort in the Class AA semifinals.
He didn’t disappoint.
Did Milum have some downs to go with his ups? Sure. The kid with the big arm and big bat might look like Paul Bunyan swinging an axe, but in reality he’s a “Babe.”
As in Ruth.
Remember, “The Bambino” also was a lefty.
At any rate, Milum showed both his innate talent and telltale youth Friday.
He started strong on the mound throwing only seven pitches in the first inning with six of them strikes. It was more of the same in the second frame with 14 pitches including nine strikes.
But, then, in the third inning Milum ran into a bit of trouble. With one out, he issued his first walk and it came back to bite him. The free pass eventually scored thanks to a two-base error in the infield.
Bases on balls have been a bugaboo for the young left-hander. Milum had a pitching performance earlier in the season that included eight strikeouts, eight walks and only one hit.
Will he grow out of this problem?
More than likely, but not yet.
Anybody who watched the fourth inning Friday witnessed that. After walking the leadoff hitter and, then, getting an out on a fielder’s choice, Milum gave up a double that was poorly played defensively.
Then, the wheels came off.
After a passed ball allowed another run, Milum walked four of the next five batters and gave up three runs before finally getting out of the inning with a backward “K” strikeout.
The damage was done. Besides allowing Frankfort to tie the score, 4-4, Milum severely injured his pitch limit. He threw 48 pitches (only 19 strikes) in the fourth inning, raising his pitch count to 92.
But, again, Milum showed why he is special.
He pitched a three-up-and-three-down fifth inning, which took only 11 pitches. Then, in the seventh, Milum had a strikeout and a come-backer to the mound before running out of pitches.
The final result for Milum was much like that previously mentioned eight-strikeout, eight-walk, one-hit performance. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing only two hits, while striking out six and, yes, walking six.
Yet, the talent, the potential, the promise of this prodigy is so obvious.
That’s why Marshall University’s baseball program already has offered Milum a scholarship. Yes, as a ninth-grader. And why not? Nobody knows how big this impressive youngster might get. Considering he already was throwing 85 mph Friday, who knows how fast he might become?
Milum is a phenom, pure and simple.
Just ask Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin.
“Whew,” said Sutphin. “I don’t know about college. He’s got a chance to be a professional.”
The name is Milum ... Wyatt Milum.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.