FORTVILLE — Late errors by Mt. Vernon enabled Greenfield-Central to pull through in the opener of their doubleheader Friday night.
But MV pitcher James Stricker made few mistakes in the nightcap, and the Marauders got the equalizer.
G-C extended its streak to start the Hoosier Heritage Conference portion of its season to five with a 6-4 win, helped by two unearned runs in the seventh inning.
Stricker threw no-hit ball for 4 1/3 innings of Game 2 and fanned 10 Cougars, as MV handed G-C its first conference loss, 4-2.
The Marauders improved to 2-4, and 2-2 in the conference, while the Cougars dropped their second in three games overall and are 5-2, 5-1 in the HHC.
G-C got out to a 4-0 lead through 2 1/2 innings in Game 1, and batted around in the third while pushing three across.
But the Marauders got two back in their half of the third, on a RBI triple by Noah Powell and sacrifice by Christian Smith to score Powell. They knotted it the next inning, when pinch-hitter Wyatt Vestal knocked in a pair with a single. All runs were off Cougar starter Hayden Kissee.
In the seventh, Jared Banton ripped a shot to right that Nathanael Lash lost in the sun, and Banton moved to second while pinch-runner Drew McDowell went to third.
Kennedy Parker then replaced Zach Spears on the hill for MV, and while Parker’s first batter, Syrus Fletcher was up, a pitch got away from catcher Michael Cripe and McDowell scored.
Fletcher flew out to center. Banton, now on third, hesitated a bit while center fielder Zach Norman threw home. That ball sailed over Cripe to the backstop, and Banton beat the subsequent throw home.
Mitch Gibson picked up the win in relief, going 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball and striking out four.
The Marauders jumped ahead 2-0 in their first at-bat of the nightcap, on RBIs by Cripe (single) and Norman (triple).
MV made it 3-0 in the fifth when Vestal scored on a throwing error by G-C.
Stricker was sterling on the mound, fanning five consecutive Cougars at one point. His no-hit bid ended in the fifth, when Gibson singled. The next batter, Slater Rush, doubled Gibson home.
Coaches left unfulfilled
Neither MV coach Scott Johnson nor his counterpart, Brian Murphy, seemed satisfied by their team’s play.
“We couldn’t get a lot of people out, the pitch count was high and we’ve got to work fewer pitches to every player,” Johnson said. “The hitting wasn’t very good (Friday). We need to get better hitting and we’ve got to put the ball in play in critical situations.
While G-C had gotten off to a quick start in the HHC, Murphy said it is far from what he’d like to see.
“We think we’re better than that and we certainly didn’t play well (Friday),” Murphy said. “We didn’t play well Wednesday night (against Scecina) and we’re not playing well right now.”
Five MV hurlers combined to strike out 27 Cougars during the doubleheader, with several streaks of consecutive Ks.
In the opener, starter Wyatt Wills set the side down in order in the second, sandwiched by innings in which he got out of bases-loaded jams.
Spears later in Game 1 ran off five straight strikeouts, the last two batters of the fourth and all three in the fifth.
Stricker fanned three straight in the fourth, after the Cougars put two runners in scoring position (hit by pitch and error). He still had his shutout.
Lash, who relieved Stricker to start the sixth, whiffed four G-C batters in a row (three in the sixth) and struck Bryce Robertson out to end the game.
Around the bases
Ben Stephens, the Cougars’ No. 9 hitter, had three hits in the opener. ... Rush struck out seven in six innings of Game 2, relieving Seth Adams. ... G-C is at Perry Meridian Monday, while MV hosts Beech Grove the same day.
Greenfield-Central 6, Mt. Vernon 4
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
GC 103 000 2 — 6 5 2
MV 002 200 0 — 4 8 1
WP: Gibson (1-0). LP: Spears (0-1).
GC: Stephens 3-4, RBI; Banton 1-2, 2B, 2 R; Kissee 4 1/3 IP, 5K; Gibson 2 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 4 K.
MV: Smith 2-4, SAC RBI; Langdon 2-4; Vestal 1-2, 2 RBI; Wills 3 IP, 6 K; Spears 3 IP, 6 K.
Mt. Vernon 4, Greenfield-Central 2
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
MV (2-4, 2-2 HHC) 200 010 1 — 4 8 3
GC (5-2, 5-1 HHC) 000 010 1 — 2 4 1
WP: Stricker (1-1). LP: Adams (2-1). SV: Lash (1).
MV: Stricker 5 IP, 2 H, 10 K; Lash 2 IP, 1 H, 4 K; McMillan 2-3, SB; Norman 3B, RBI.
GC: Rush 2-3, 2 RBI, 2B, 6 IP, 4 H, 7 K, Banton 2 BB, SB, Pribble 2B.