YORKTOWN — Of the 14 players that made appearances for Mt. Vernon in Saturday’s season-opening baseball doubleheader against Yorktown, all but three were juniors or seniors.
But had it not been for the three sophomores who contributed, the Marauders may have been looking at a two-game hole against both the Tigers and Greenfield-Central right out of the gate in the Hoosier Heritage Conference race.
Mt. Vernon left Yorktown Saturday evening with a 6-3 win and a split of the teams’ doubleheader, after the Tigers held MV to three hits and took the opener 3-1.
The Marauders had only nine hits for the day, but sophomore Noah Powell came up with three, as well as a game-saving, and -ending grab of a line drive with the bases loaded in the nightcap.
After MV jumped ahead 6-0 – thanks in large part to two of four Yorktown errors for the game – the Tigers were threatening to ruin the Marauders’ solid effort. Four of the first five Tiger batters got aboard against Andrew Boyle, in relief of starter Wyatt Wills.
MV coach Scott Johnson stepped in and called on another sophomore, Kennedy Parker, to take over. Parker’s first batter, Ryan Tucker, had hit into two double plays in the opener.
Sure enough, Tucker smacked one right into Powell’s path at short. Powell caught it, then hustled over to second base to double up Nathan Simpson, who was well on his way to third, and the day was done.
“Noah Powell made several really good defensive plays and he helped key the victory for us,” Johnson said. “He’s smart and he’s a very special defensive player.”
Powell, who batted second in the opener and leadoff in Game 2, reached six times in seven plate appearances (he was hit twice by pitches in the nightcap as well), stole two bases and scored MV’s only first-game run.
The third sophomore, Wyatt Vestal, got a RBI triple to produce the first of four runs in the second. Vestal took off for home as part of a double-steal (Powell to second).
MV scored its other two runs that inning on Tiger errors, and the others the next at-bat on a fielder’s choice grounder by Christian Smith and a single by Zach Norman.
Wills pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out three for the win.
“I thought both games we threw really well,” Johnson said. “Our pitching was solid and we’ve just got to get a few more hits for those pitchers. We did get timely hits and we took advantage of their errors.”
Yorktown’s Jacob Preston shut the Marauders down in the first game, striking out 10 in six innings (Clay Dungan fanned nine Marauders in relief in the nightcap).
Two of MV’S opening-game hits came from its second and third batters of the year.
The latter produced the Marauders’ lone run, a Norman double that plated Powell, who had singled. Powell got a second hit, a single in the sixth.
Other than that, MV came up empty. On seven occasions, Preston fanned Marauders looking, and at one point got eight straight batters out, including the side in innings 4 and 5.
The Marauders saved further damage from at least one of three inning-ending double plays, including an unusual one in the first.
The Tigers had the bases loaded when Anthony Todd popped up to second baseman Smith, who lost the ball in the sun. The infield fly rule wasn’t called and Smith threw to Powell, covering second, to get the first runner. Powell saw the runner who was on third, Cole Barr, stranded midway to home with another runner having occupied third, and threw Barr out.
“Good pitching is going to be ahead of good hitting (at this point), and our hitters will come around,” Johnson said. “They’ll come around, and I just hope it’s sooner rather than later. We’ve got to get better at two-strike hitting, when we’re behind in the count.”
Yorktown 3, Mt. Vernon 1
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
MV 100 000 0 — 1 3 2
YO 011 010 X — 3 7 0
Two or more hits: Powell (MV); Dungan, Phillips (YO). 2B: Norman (MV); Phillips 2, Dungan, Preston (YO). SAC: Turner (MV). SB: Powell (MV); Barr (YO). DP: MV 3.
WP: Preston (1-0). LP: Stricker (0-1). SV: Barr (1).
Mt. Vernon 6, Yorktown 3
YO (1-1, 1-1 HHC) 000 200 1 — 3 6 4
MV (1-1, 1-1 HHC) 042 000 X — 6 5 0
2B: Preston (YO). 3B: Vestal (MV). HR: Todd (YO). SB: Smith, Powell, Vestal, Spears (MV). DP: MV 1.
WP: Wills (1-0). LP: Clawson (0-1). SV: Parker (1).