Heritage Academy players rush out of the dugout while pitcher Cole Ketchum shouts his joy after the final out was recorded in Friday's Game 2 of the MAIS Class 3A Baseball State Championship Series. Photo by: (Paul Keane/The Wayne County News
May 18, 2019 11:05:37 PM
By Paul Keane
Special to The Dispatch
WAYNESBORO -- On the 25th anniversary of the last time Heritage Academy's baseball team played for a state title, this year's version of the Patriots closed the deal.
Behind the pitching of Cole Ketchum, Heritage scored a pair of runs early and made that stand up in a 3-0 win over Wayne Academy in Game 2 of the MAIS Class 3A Baseball State Championship Series. The win moved the Patriots to 27-7 on the year but, more importantly, handed Heritage its first baseball crown in school history. Head Coach Justin Flake said his team was on a very clear mission throughout the 2019 campaign.
"Last year was the first year of my program, and we came up short of our goal," he said, "but we returned everyone from a very strong team and from Day 1, this was our goal. "I couldn't be more proud of our guys," he added. "We had blinders on the whole season with one goal in mind, which was winning a state title. We had some dogfights this season, and we won some ballgames in all kind of different ways. Down the stretch, though, our pitching is what delivered us."
Pitching definitely delivered the Patriots in the title series, as Blayze Berry four-hit the Jaguars at home on Wednesday night before the freshman Ketchum handcuffed the Jaguars at Cheston Jones Field Friday night.
Ketchum allowed only two hits and walked two while striking out five in his complete game victory. He needed only 88 pitches and actually got stronger in the later innings, retiring the final seven batters in a row, including striking out the side in the bottom of the sixth. To close the deal, Ketchum struck out Ethan Rhodes for the final out of the game, then we have mobbed by his teammates at the pitcher's mound as the celebration began.
Offensively, the Patriots gave Ketchum just enough run support in the top of the first inning to take the win. Berry led off that frame with a walk, followed by a walk of Banks Hyde. J.R. Lott then reached on an error to load the bases and, with one out, Ketchum singled to right field to score courtesy runner Wesley Miller. Lott intentionally got himself in a rundown between second and third base, allowing Hyde to score, giving the Patriots a quick 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Berry led things off by reaching on an error, then Hyde was hit by a pitch. With one out, K.J. Smith singled to left field, scoring courtesy runner Miller for the final run of the game.
From there, the two teams settled into a defensive struggle that featured solid pitching from both teams. After the third, the only threat made by the Patriots was in the top of the sixth when Smith and Ketchum both hit singles to lead off the inning before Wayne starter Dawson Davis retired the next three batters to end the threat.
Davis, a senior, pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) off five hits and two walks while striking out one. For W.A., the Jaguars were able to get only three runners in scoring position, with one in the first and two in the fifth.
The rest of the way, Ketchum simply shut down what had been a potent W.A. offense throughout the postseason.