DAILY REPORTER Correspondent
FORTVILLE — A doubleheader sweep didn’t lessen the positives that the Mt. Vernon baseball team took out of its 6-4, 12-10 losses to visiting Yorktown on Saturday.
In the season-opener for both squads, Class 3A No. 4-ranked Yorktown had to fight a hobbled Marauders group blow-for-blow.
“To have a team as highly ranked as (the Tigers) are and have them on the ropes the way that we did gives me a lot of optimism,” Mt. Vernon first-year coach Ryan Carr said.
Carr handed the ball to his senior ace, Zach Spears, for the season-opener. Through the first five innings, Spears was dominant. When the sixth inning started, Spears had allowed one hit with twelve strikeouts.
In fact, he struck out the side in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
Mt. Vernon had taken the lead in the fourth inning by plating four runs in small-ball fashion. Nathaniel Lash, Ryan Beck and Noah Powell reached on an error, walk and single, respectively. Travis Mason drove in one run with a single.
Senior third baseman Christian Smith then finished off the offense with a bases-clearning, three-run double to give Mt. Vernon a 4-2 lead.
However, Spears could not keep up the domination in the sixth inning.
The lead was gone for good when Yorktown first baseman Anthony Todd hit an opposite field home run to give Yorktown a final 6-4 lead.
Spears finished the game with 12 strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter.
“If you look at the (stats), he dominated, but he threw a lot of pitches. When he is obviously dominating batters, he needs to go strike one, strike two, strike three,” Carr said. “Zach’s our guy, but it was my fault for not taking him out.”
Mt. Vernon was able to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but a strikeout ended the game.
For the first few innings, Game 2 mirrored Game 1. After three innings, the score was tied 4-4, but Yorktown’s bats came alive. Yorktown’s biggest bat — Todd — hit a three-run home run that nearly dented the scoreboard in left field to cap a seven-run fifth inning. Todd finished the game 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs.
“Before (Todd’s) third at-bat, I said ‘Let’s see if he can get his third home run of the day’, and right on cue …” Carr said.
Todd proceeded to hit a solo home run on the first pitch, to give Yorktown a 12-5 lead heading into the seventh inning.
Mt. Vernon then put together another rally that fell just short. After plating five runs, Tyler Franklin smacked a sharply hit grounder to shortstop, with runners on first and third, to end the game with a score of 12-10.
Spears, Mason and Braydon Augustinovicz collected doubles for the Marauders in Game 2, while Powell had two stolen bases.
Mt. Vernon played much of the day with two of its senior leaders having gone down with injuries.
In the second inning of Game 1, senior catcher Michael Cripe went down with an ankle injury after stepping on first base. In Game 2, Mason, a junior left fielder, left the game with a dislocated shoulder after attempting what would have been his third spectacular catch of the day.
“Cripe has worked really hard to get better, and, hopefully, we can get him back quickly. Mason is our table setter and a great kid,” Carr detailed after the game. “It was really unfortunate to lose two guys that can make an impact like that in the first game. Those are big losses, and hopefully we can get them back sooner rather than later.”
Mt. Vernon will host Southport today and return to Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader action with a visit from Pendleton Heights (2-0, 2-0 HHC) on Friday.