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May 9, 2003

Ketchner cools off Mavericks

From: Victorville Daily Press, CA - May 9, 2003


SAN BERNARDINO - Inland Empire 66ers pitcher Ryan Ketchner left the game in the seventh inning to a standing ovation during his team's 5-2 win over High Desert.

Ketchner couldn't hear any of it. Ryan Ketchner is deaf.

The pitcher gave a speech to the California School for the Deaf in Riverside on Tuesday and some of those students came out again Thursday night to see their hero pitch.

After the game, Ketchner was surrounded by 30 people, some asking for

autographs and some to merely speak with him. There were no sounds, though. Just sign language.

"It was pretty cool," Ketchner said of the fan support. "Having people out there for me made it more fun."

The No. 30 prospect in the Seattle Mariners' system according to Baseball America was perfect through 4 1-3

innings, including five strikeouts.

Then Jason Belcher came up and ruined his perfect game bid with a single in the fifth.

The next inning, Todd West doubled and was driven in by Johnny Raburn's ground out to the shortstop.

Other than that, Ketchner was brilliant.

What Ketchner also did was pitch fast. The speed of his innings helped both pitcher and his defense, High Desert manager Tim Blackwell said.

Along with his game speed, Ketchner's disability becomes an advantage as it is easier to block out distractions.

"He came out and established his fastball early," Belcher said. "He was tough. We had a tough time seeing the ball off of him. He threw a lot of strikes."

High Desert starting pitcher Dan Hall lost in his first game since an 8 2-3 inning masterpiece against Rancho Cucamonga on Friday.

The Mavericks were in position to do some firsts before Ketchner's performance.

With a win, the Mavericks would have swept a series for the first time in 2003.

It also would have given High Desert its first sweep in San Bernardino since 1996, when the team was called the Spirit and played at Fiscalini Field.

Hall also could have become the first California League pitcher to five wins.

Blackwell said after the game he thought none of these factors weighed too heavily on many of his player's minds.

"I don't think they think in baseball terms (about sweeps and winning streaks)," Blackwell said. "I'll be candid and frank. I look at their actions and behavior and their reactions. I watch things. There are a couple guys (that do worry) but there are several guys that don't think that way.

"When it's your chosen profession, it's not a good thing. There is time and time again when you make mistakes that are things that shouldn't be made and you have to wonder; what's the thought process."

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