FAIRBORN — When Wright State’s Tristan Haught walked off the mound for the final time Saturday, everyone in Nischwitz Stadium knew they’d just witnessed one of the greatest pitching feats in program history.
In a win-or-go-home scenario in the Horizon League tourney, he threw two-plus innings of one-hit relief to close out a 9-8 victory in the first game, and he pitched seven scoreless innings while starting the second game to help the Raiders coast to the title with a 14-0 victory.
He was credited with the win in both games. And when coach Alex Sogard pulled him after one batter in the eighth, the crowd of 634 gave him a hearty ovation, and his teammates showed their appreciation with hugs and high-fives.
“It was very special to walk off the field and having everyone clapping and looking at me, knowing, hey, I did something to help us get to (the NCAA) regional,” said Haught, who made the all-tourney team.
Sogard was in a quandary before the title game, having burned through his starting staff to get through the losers bracket.
The decision was made to go with Haught because he was already warmed up and showed he was in good form.
“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Sogard, who is in his fifth year as coach and seventh on staff.
“What he did was incredible. He gave us (seven) scoreless innings and allowed our offense to get on the board.”
The Raiders (39-21) will face host Indiana State (42-15) in the opener of a double-elimination NCAA regional in Terra Haute, Ind., at 1 p.m. Friday.
North Carolina (35-22) and Iowa (42-14) play at 7 p.m.
Haught, who is in his fifth season of eligibility, has mostly been the pitching equivalent of a utility player.
He’s made a team-high 27 appearances with four starts this season. He’s got a 6-2 record for the second-most wins on the staff with 62 strikeouts in 63 innings.
He led the team with 26 appearances last year, all in relief, but he made a couple of starts his first two years.
“He’s always had a rubber arm,” Sogard said. “He’s always been a guy who can throw every day. He bounces back well.
“When he’s on — and this has been since he’s been here — he’s as good as anyone. He’s mid-90s with a big-league slider. There’s days he’s not on, and that’s been a challenge. But in the last month, he’s been the best pitcher in the league.”
Haught, who had a save in the HL tourney opener, said taking the ball in back-to-back games reminded him of his Little League days while growing up in the small eastern Ohio town of Richmond (pop. 412).
That’s why his accomplishment didn’t feel out of the ordinary for him. And he’s quick to point out it was a team effort.
“I couldn’t have done it without the guys behind me. They were making plays I haven’t seen in a while,” he said.
But he’s glad he did his part for a group that means so much to him.
“I’ve been here a long time now, and I’ve gained a lot of friends and have a lot of people who are just like family,” he said.
Haught would know better than most what a family atmosphere is like. He’s actually married with two children, meaning he has as much in common with his coaches as his teammates.
He and wife Parry — his girlfriend since he was a junior at Edison High School — have a daughter, Peyton, who will be 3 in August, and a son, Nathan, who is just shy of two months old.
“I took a two-week break at the middle of the season to be able to spend time with my wife,” he said. “Obviously, giving birth to a baby isn’t easy. And I was able to help her out with whatever she needed.
“My coaches were very forgiving when it came to that. They said, ‘Go do what you have to do, and we all understand family comes first.’ They were good with whenever I came back, and I didn’t skip a beat after that.”
Even though he’s already earned a degree in organizational leadership, the 23-year-old Haught is hoping to put that aside for a long pro career.
He’s certainly got the support he needs at home.
“I couldn’t be playing today if it wasn’t for my wife. She works full time and takes care of our kids. She does literally all of it for us,” he said.
“I had to get jobs during Covid (after the season was cut short), and, man, there’s no way I could do it without her. It’s great to have a family behind you to push you to do what you need to do.”