NEW PALESTINE — In weather more befitting of a Boundary Rail football game, the Class 3A No. 2 New Palestine Dragons and Mt. Vernon Marauders took the field Friday night for their annual Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader.
With temperatures diving into the high 40s and a slow, spitting rain, concentration would be key. New Palestine proved to be on their game, as they swept the twinbill with victories of 11-5 in Game 1 and 10-0 in Game 2 to improve to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the HHC.
The weather didn’t seem to bother the Dragons, who got out of a jam in the top of the first inning and proceeded to score five runs in the bottom of the frame to stake control early on.
While leading 1-0, sophomore Jack Walker roped a double down the right-right line to bring in two more runs. Jacob Hickman would then hit an infield single that ended up with two more runs crossing the plate following a throwing error.
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After building that lead, Nebraska commit Keegan Watson’s performance on the mound ensured that the Dragons could coast to victory. Watson would pitch 5.0 innings and finish with 12 strikeouts while allowing only one hit and one walk.
“It was tough early for him with the weather the way it was,” New Palestine coach Shawn Lyons said afterwards. “He didn’t have his best stuff like he did last week, but it’s a great sign he can perform the way he did even while struggling a bit.”
Walker would continue to perform at the plate in his next two at-bats, hitting a single and a triple as the Dragons lead ballooned to 11-1. Walker would finish the game 3-4 with 3 RBIs, 3 runs and a home run short of the cycle.
“Not a lot of people know about Jack yet, but we do,” Lyons said of his sophomore up-and-comer. “But we see him every day at practice, in the weight room, and in the class room, and he’s a special kid.”
Game 2 wasn’t much different, as the Dragons jumped out to a three-run lead in the top of the first and rode strong pitching to another dominate victory. Junior pitcher Kyle Gardner went 6.0 innings and threw nine strikeouts leading his team to a 10-0 victory in six innings.
With the losses, Mt. Vernon falls to 4-7 overall and 2-4 in the HHC.
Walker again starred at the plate finishing 2-2 with an RBI and 2 runs, and lead-off man Nick Rusche finished 2-4 with 2 runs and a stolen base.
New Palestine will next travel to Connersville on Wednesday night, while Mt. Vernon looks to turn it around as they travel to Anderson on Tuesday night.
New Palestine 11, Mt. Vernon 5
MVHS (4-6, 2-3); 001;001;3;—;5;5;3
NPHS (9-2, 4-1); 502;031;x;—;11;11;4
WP: Keegan Watson, 4-0. LP: Cooper Williams, 0-2.
3B: Jack Walker (NP) 2B: Nick Rusche, Jack Walker (NP), Dino Tharp (MV).
Notable: J. Walker 3-4, 2B, 3B, 3R (NP), J. Smith 1-1, 3BB, 3R (NP).
New Palestine 10, Mt. Vernon 0
NPHS (10-2, 5-1); 302;302;—;10;12;5
MVHS (4-7, 2-4); 000;000;—;0;2;5
WP: Kyle Gardner, 2-1. LP: Ryan Beck, 1-1.
3B: Keegan Watson (NP) 2B: Tyler Martin, Jacob Smith, Colby Jenkins, Jacob Garrison (NP), Sam McCarty (MV).
Notable: Kyle Gardner, 6 IP, 0R, 8K, 2H.