For the Daily Reporter
FORTVILLE — The hot and humid weather wasn’t enough to stop the Mt. Vernon baseball team on Friday night. It powered its way to two big victories against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival the New Castle Trojans.
Zach Spears and the Marauders (13-10, 6-4 Hoosier Heritage Conference) could barely be touched in Game 1 as they cruised to an 8-3 win against the Trojans (10-14, 4-8 HHC).
Game 2 was much the same story. James Stricker, just like Spears before him, had a great performance on the mound to blank the Trojans 9-0.
With so many strong performances it was tough for head coach Ryan Carr to pick a player out, although one did catch his eye.
“Honestly, Max Wills,” said Carr. “It’s kind of like the (Michael) Jordan fatigue; you can’t give it to Spears, you can’t give it to Noah so I’m going to give it to Max.”
Speedy base running by Noah Powell and Wills put the Marauders on the scoreboard first. After a hard-hit double to the left-field corner, Powell stole third and safely trotted home after a wild throw by the catcher. Wills pilfered second after reaching first on a walk and benefited from two wild pitches to give the Marauders a 2-0 lead in the first.
Wills and company littered the outfield with hits in the second inning. He and catcher Mike Cripe each had a two-run double. Mt. Vernon totaled five runs off of four hits to extend their early lead to 7-0 in the second. Wills finished the game 3-3 with two doubles, a single and three RBIs.
“He was awesome,” Carr said again of Wills. “We just put him in this week, we’ve known he could hit but he doesn’t know the signs yet but he doesn’t need to know them if he’s hitting triples.”
While the strong hitting and smart base running were key in the Marauders’ Game 1 win against the Trojans. However, nothing was more important than sensational pitching by Spears. He went five innings, gave up just one run off of three hits and recorded 11 strikeouts.
“That’s just what Zach does,” said Carr. “He is just so overpowering at this level. He has six wins on the season, and we have 13 on the year. That shows you how important he is to us.”
Kennedy Parker came in to relieve Spears in the sixth. He struggled to find his groove early on but finished the game strong to give the Marauders an 8-3 win. The two pitchers combined struck out 13 batters.
As the clouds rolled in and the weather began to cool down, the Marauders continued to heat up.
They began Game 2 in the same fashion as the first. Powell rattled off a triple to start the game and dashed his way home after a wild pitch to give them an early lead.
“He (Powell) is 15-for-15 this year stealing,” Carr stated. “He’s a smart player and a talented baseball player and it’s nice to have that combination.”
Stricker pitched 5 2/3 innings and struck out nine batters en route to a shutout win.
“He tends to struggle in the first inning but wants he loosens up he is good to go,” Carr continued.
At the plate, Mt. Vernon pounded home nine runs off of 14 hits and had the Trojans with their backs against the wall. The Marauders were also able to advance runners off of five wild pitches.
Game 2 was called in the sixth inning due to lightning which gave the Marauders an early 9-0 win.
The Marauders will be back in action Monday against Carmel. Mt. Vernon will play its regular-season home game Wednesday against Elwood.
Wrapping up the regular season, the Marauders will travel to New Palestine for conference doubleheader Friday.