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Legion baseball: Ketchie pitches eight shutout innings

Staff report

MOORESVILLE — Rowan County American Legion baseball fans breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday, as lefty Bryan Ketchie tossed a gem.
Ketchie used 96 pitches to fire eight shutout innings, and Rowan rolled, 10-2, at Mooresville last night to stay undefeated in the Southern Division of Area III.
Ketchie, a Catawba signee who starred at West Rowan, experienced the worst outing of his life last Saturday in Asheboro — eight hits and nine runs, five of them earned, while getting just two outs — in a 17-5 loss to Florence, S.C. in the NC-SC Challenge.
“If it could go wrong, it did,” Ketchie said. “It wasn’t pretty, so, yes, I was anxious and excited to get back on the mound. I couldn’t wait to get out there.”
The Ketchie who pitched against Mooresville was the same Ketchie people got used to seeing last summer when he had a 6-0 record and was instrumental in Rowan County’s run to the state championship. Ketchie doesn’t strike out many, but he walks even fewer. When he’s on, he gets a lot of first-pitch and second-pitch outs. He stays ahead of hitters. He had only one full count on Tuesday.
“I did get a lot of quick outs and I stayed pretty consistent,” Ketchie said. “All my pitches were working and we were playing good defense. (Catcher) Jake Pritchard really called a good game. That helped me and the early runs we got also helped me.”
Ketchie is 3-1 this season, so he’s now 9-1 in his career with the Senior Legion team.
It took some of the pressure off Ketchie when Rowan jumped ahead early. A three-run first, highlighted by Hunter Shepherd’s loud double, put Rowan (13-7, 4-0) in control.
Rowan didn’t score again until the fifth, an ugly inning in which Rowan got a single and four walks, but only managed one run. Brandon Walton scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
A long, three-run sixth provided a cushion for Ketchie. Rowan accepted six walks from three Mooresville hurlers to push the lead to 7-0. Walton, Pritchard and Tanner File drew bases-loaded walks in the inning.
Third baseman Juan Garcia helped Ketchie put up all those zeroes. Garcia threw out a runner at the plate in the fifth and he started a double play after spearing a line drive to end the sixth.
One of the guys Ketchie had to pitch to on Tuesday was Kacey Otto, a recent addition to the Mooresville team. Otto played center field for Rowan County last summer and was a big part of the state championship. He also was Ketchie’s teammate and classmate at West Rowan.
“It was a little weird pitching to Kacey, but it was just one more guy on that team I needed to make good pitches to,” Ketchie said. “That’s a good team. We needed a walk-off hit from Shepherd to beat them the first time we played them.”
Rowan is on the road again tonight at Stanly County for another division game. Rowan is back at Newman Park against Mooresville on Thursday.

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