Heading into the seventh inning on Friday, Andrew Church felt something he hadn't felt since before he was taken in the second round of last year's Draft.
The Mets prospect was three outs away from not only his first complete game but his first shutout. And the nerves were a little evident as Church allowed a single, then threw a wild pitch to start the seventh and final inning.
Three ground balls later, the 19-year-old right-hander completed the shutout, picking up his second win of the season as Rookie-level Kingsport edged visiting Elizabethton, 1-0 in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
"Past three starts have kind of been up and down, but I knew we had a good chance to win today," Church said said. "I feel like it was not very stressful."
The Nevada native scattered four hits and a walk while striking out five. He matched the longest start of his career in his first scoreless outing since July 26, 2013 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
"I wanted to go right after them. I saw they were aggressive and putting balls in play early," he said. "Results-wise, it definitely is [my best start]. Stuff-wise, I felt good."
Church went 0-3 in his first four starts, yielding 14 runs before allowing two unearned runs on five hits over six frames to pick up his first Appalachian League victory on June 20. The following start, he surrendered six runs -- two earned -- on six hits over five innings for his fourth loss in five decisions.
"It hasn't all clicked with knowing what to throw. I've been working hard with the coaches to find a plan of attack against hitters," Church said, referring to K-Mets manager Jose Leger and pitching coach Jonathan Hurst. "They both have given me a lot of advice.
"I feel like I've developed really well, just getting my curveball back to where it was. Jonathan Hurst has helped a lot with that."
Kingsport gave Church an early lead when Luis Guillorme led off the first with a single and raced to third on a base hit by Jean Rodriguez. Oswald Caraballo grounded into a double play, scoring Guillorme with the only run Church needed.
John Curtiss (0-1), the Twins' sixth-round pick in last month's Draft, took the loss after yielding a run on four hits over four frames. The 21-year-old right-hander walked one, struck out three and has allowed two runs over 10 1/3 innings as a pro.