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Rockford pitching duo seek state title before parting ways

Baseball   | Steve Vedder

Rockford pitching duo seek state title before parting ways

Rockford - Jack Weisenburger and Bryce Kelley aren't exactly carbon copies of themselves, but they do have one significant attribute that links the Rockford senior pitchers together.

Weisenburger is a sturdy, 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander whose fastball tops out in the low 90s. Kelley, a left-hander, is a couple inches shorter, 10 pounds lighter and confuses batters with an array of pitches notably a slider, a roundhouse curve and a change-up.

While the two pitchers have relied on different skill sets in their development (Kelley signed with Michigan State, Weisenburger with Michigan), the two agree there is one talent that binds the pair together and that’s a willingness to compete.

We're both competitors," said Kelley, whose older brother Reed pitches at Grand Valley State. "I think that's brought us to this point. I know I will not lose and I know he doesn't want to lose, either. That's what we're like."

Weisenburger said there is another pitching trait the two have in common. Neither waste time in going after hitters.

"We attack the hitters," he said. "I know I don't mess around. Depending on the hitter, I figure out what works and I try to be aggressive."

Kelley said if one of the pair does possess an advantage, it's that he’s a lefty. It doesn't matter what the level, a left-hander who approaches 90 mph, throws strikes and gets hitters out with an almost effortless ease are continually in demand.

"I've definitely heard that and I think throwing left-handed has helped me," Kelley said. "Coaches like us."

While the two may be different, Weisenburger and Kelley comprise the best one-two punch of any pitching duo in West Michigan. Both went 8-2 a year ago, with Weisenburger fanning 99 batters and Kelley sporting a 1.28 ERA. Both play the outfield when they're not on the mound. Kelley batted .446 last year and Weisenburger .335. Both are off to fast starts this season in combining for a 3-0 record while giving up only two runs in 17 innings.

In fact, Weisenburger loves hitting enough that he expects the U-M coaches will give him a chance to play the outfield next season. Weisenburger, whose transferred to Rockford from Big Rapids after his freshman year, said he doesn't consider himself a pitcher first and a hitter second.

"It's pretty even," he said. "I want to do both at Michigan; I've had success as a hitter and I'd love to do both. I'm definitely going there with the intent of doing both."

Both were highly recruited before they signed last fall and could have wound up at the same college. Weisenburger, who is 16-2 in his Rams career, visited Michigan State and also considered Miami (Fla.), Indiana, Wichita State and West Virginia. Kelley was recruited by Minnesota, Wichita State, Central Michigan and West Virginia.

Kelley said the two contemplated moving along to the next level together.

"We talked about it," he said. "We liked similar schools. I just settled on Michigan State and he liked Michigan. We kinda left things open."