American Legion Baseball: Rowan wins in 11 innings
THOMASVILLE — High Point almost won Thursday’s game at Finch Field several times. Rowan County finally did win it 1-0 when Riley Myers scampered home on a wild pitch in the 11th inning.
“The guys are upset because we lost that game three or four times,” High Point coach Rob Shore said. “We just couldn’t get that big hit tonight. Rowan County’s pitchers kept us off the board, and we’ve been lighting up some scoreboards just like they have.”
No one left the edge of their seat until Rowan County right fielder Harrison Baucom went as far as he could go and pulled down a vicious drive by Corey Brandenburg to end the game and make a winner of reliever Bryan Ketchie, a poker-faced, strike-throwing lefty.
“Ketchie’s stuff is good, but his demeanor is great,” Rowan County coach Jim Gantt said. “His poise gives him a chance to be special.”
Rowan County won its 12th game in a row.
Omar Bautista shut out the high-powered HiToms, a lineup up stacked with college players, for five innings.
Bautista was in desperate trouble in the third when he walked three batters and allowed an infield hit, but a well-executed pickoff play saved him.
“Without the pickoff, they get some runs there,” Gantt said.
Bautista sailed through the fourth and fifth. When the sixth inning began with Bautista’s fifth and sixth walks and a scorching line drive right to center fielder Kacey Otto, Gantt called for Ketchie. The southpaw immediately got a groundball to third baseman Juan Garcia, who started an inning-ending double play.
“Our defenders had a great night,” Ketchie said. “They only got one hit off Omar and he did a great job of battling. Then I came in and I was getting a lot of groundballs. It was a fun night. It was a confidence-booster.”
It stayed 0-0 a long time because Rowan County (14-4, 9-0) couldn’t do anything against High Point starter Bryce Lance. Garcia and Shepherd belted doubles, but Rowan only had five hits in Lance’s nine innings.
“We’ve been beating up some pitchers, but we were facing a guy with good velocity and a good breaking ball tonight and he showed us different looks,” Gantt said. “You’d start to look for one pitch and then he could go to something else in a different spot.”
High Point (15-3, 7-2) appeared certain to prevail in the 10th when Ben Fischer smacked a leadoff double and an infield hit and an intentional walk filled the bases.
Ketchie got out of it with another groundball to Garcia, who fired to catcher Dustin Ritchie for a forceout at home. Ritchie’s relay to Shepherd at first base completed a stunning 5-2-3 double play. Then Ketchie got a flyball for the third out.
Myers reached on an error to start the 11th and charged to third base when Heath Mitchem’s single squirted up the middle, almost directly over the second-base bag. Myers scored when reliever Luke Gessel fired a wild pitch.
“Our starting pitcher threw a shutout for nine innings and came away with nothing,” Shore said. “That was a different kind of ballgame than any we’ve played all year.”
Rowan County 000 000 000 01 — 1 7 0
High Point 000 000 000 00 — 0 6 2
WP — Ketchie (3-0). LP — Gessel.