FORTVILLE — Silence engulfed the dugout. Humbled and frustrated after getting swept by rival Pendleton Heights in a doubleheader Monday night, the Mt. Vernon Marauders were left with one question: now what?
Head coach Ryan Carr outlined the answer plainly. At 2-6 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference after losing 7-1 and 4-0 to the Arabians (12-3, 7-1 HHC), the key word was “spoiler.”
No longer a contender for the HHC title, despite having six more conference games on their schedule, the goal from now until the beginning of the postseason was swagger — and rediscovering it.
“We need to run with it. We haven’t been hitting the ball all year. We need to change things,” Mt. Vernon senior Ryan Beck said. “We just need to relax.”
Posting a total of four hits against the Arabians in both games combined, the Marauders fell to 4-11 on the season.
Prior to the doubleheader, the Marauders carried a .245 batting average. Their approach against Pendleton Heights ace Chayce McDermott didn’t help matters as the Ball State recruit racked up 15 strikeouts.
The right-hander pounded the strike zone with fastballs, high and outside, and scattered two hits. With his fastball and cutter barreling in at around 91 mph, McDermott had a perfect game going until the bottom of the sixth when the Marauders finally broke through.
“We told him to go out there and be efficient, hit your spots and make them beat you, and he was pretty dominant with the fastball,” Pendleton Heights head coach Travis Keesling said. “We stuck with it quite a bit.”
Cooper Williams, a sophomore, was the first to figure out McDermott, crushing a solo home run in the sixth to wipe out the Arabians’ bid at a no-hitter, shutout and a perfect game with one swing.
The only other hit McDermott (4-1) surrendered was a single to Dino Tharp in the seventh. McDermott increased his HHC-leading strikeout count to 57 in 28.2 innings pitched this season.
“Last year, he shut us down 3-0. But last year, I felt he had to use more than just the fastball to beat us. He might have thrown fewer than 10 curveballs this game. He was just throwing gas,” Carr said.
“From inning No. 2 we told our guys, you have to give up a little bit in order to make contact with this guy. Make him come to you. Still for four more innings, we were swinging at stuff up and outside of the strike zone and taking big home run hacks. That’s not going to work.”
The Arabians couldn’t fair much better against Beck early, going scoreless until the fourth inning, when they pulled ahead 3-0. The lead grew to 5-0 in the top of the fifth.
Pendleton Heights had three extra-base hits, including a three-run home run by Adam Carr, who finished the first game with four RBIs.
Corbin Cox was 2-for-4 with a double and Phillip Lawson, and IU South Bend recruit, had a double.
“In our conference, wins are at a premium. You have to come out and take care of business each night,” Keesling said.
The theme continued in the second game for the visiting Arabians. Pendleton Heights completed the sweep behind a pair of two-run home runs. The first sailed over the left-field fence in the bottom of the third off of IU Kokomo recruit Eston Stull’s bat.
The second went out to dead center field in the fifth as Cox, a Heartland Community College recruit, connected on a pitch from starter Caleb Rush.
Cox finished 2-for-2. His other hit was a double in the first inning.
Both of Mt. Vernon’s hits in the second game came from Tharp, who was 3-for-6 overall.
Stull earned the win in the finale, striking out 10, walking one and allowing one hit in the sixth.
Rush was charged with the loss but went 5.0 innings and struck out five and walked two. Beck had seven strikeouts in his 4.2 innings in the first game, and Alex Griego struck out a pair and allowed one hit in his one inning of relief in the second game.
“Pitching, we looked pretty good today,” Carr said. “It’s hitting. At (batting practice), the ball flies to all parts of the field, hard. It’s not happening in games.
“It’s just going to take guys finally figuring out, loose is better, not tight, trying to yank everything.”
Last year, the Marauders finished the season 18-9 and 9-5 in the HHC for second place. They reached the sectional finals and hit .314 as a team with many of the same starters.
With Shenandoah up next today on the road, the goal is simple — find their swing and the wins will follow.
“We’re just going to go out and play some hard baseball and try to turn this season around,” Beck said.
Pendleton Heights 7, Mt. Vernon 1
PH (11-3, 6-1 HHC);000;320;2;—;7;7;0
MV (4-10, 2-5 HHC);000;001;0;—;1;2;3
WP: Chayce McDermott LP: Ryan Beck
HR: A. Carr (PH), C. Williams (MV). 2B: P. Lawson, C. Cox (PH). RBI: C. Cox, M. Vetor, A. Carr 4, B. Helpling (PH); C. Williams (MV).
Notables: C. McDermott 7.0 IP, 15 K, ER, 2 H; C. Cox 2-4, M. Vetor 1-3, E. Douglas 1-3, A. Carr 1-2, (PH). C. Williams 1-2, Tharp 1-3; R. Beck 4.2 IP, BB, 7 K, 4 ER (MV).
Pendleton Heights 4, Mt. Vernon 0
MV (4-11, 2-6 HHC);000;000;x;—;0;2;0
PH (12-3, 7-1 HHC);002;020;x;—;4;7;0
WP: Eston Stull LP: Caleb Rush
HR: E. Stull, C. Cox (PH). 2B: C. Cox (PH).
Notables: D. Tharp 2-3; C. Rush 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 4 ER (MV); E. Stull 6.0 IP, BB, 10 K.