GREENFIELD — All Mt. Vernon coach Scott Johnson wanted from his Marauders Wednesday was to play “routine baseball” in their Class 4A Sectional 9 quarterfinal game against New Castle.
Unfortunately for MV, it couldn’t follow suit and its season ended with an 8-5 loss to the Trojans at Greenfield-Central. New Castle (16-10) advances to the first Sectional 9 semifinal Saturday at 5:30 p.m. vs. Anderson (14-17).
The Marauders (12-13) committed four errors, issued four free passes (three walks, a hit batsman) and tallied three wild pitches/passed balls, which helped the Trojans build a 8-2 advantage after four and a half innings.
The black and gold rallied with three runs in the seventh – knocking New Castle starter Grant Malott from the game – but left runners at first and second to end the game.
“It was too little too late. It’s a sad way to end,” said Johnson, who completed his second season at the helm Wednesday. “The way you win in the postseason is make all the routine plays. You don’t have to do anything special; you don’t have to make any ESPN plays. Just throw strikes and let them hit it, field it and throw it. The basics. We really stressed the basics tonight, and unfortunately, that wasn’t how it turned out. We didn’t play good defense and we could have done better in a lot of areas.”
Greenfield-Central (12-10)/Pendleton Heights (17-11) and Connersville (14-14)/Richmond (16-6) are today’s Sectional 9 quarterfinal contests, with the victors meeting Saturday after the Trojans and Indians. The championship game is Monday at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, New Castle struck in each of the first four innings, scoring one in the first, four in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth.
Tyler Smith singled in a run in the first, but the Trojans left runners on second and third with one out.
After New Castle opened the second frame with two singles and a walk, Zak Kellogg brought in a pair with a single, with another base runner scoring on an overthrow. Smith notched his second RBI of the night two batters later, making the score 5-2.
MV’s two early runs came in the home half of the first on an RBI double by Zach Norman and an RBI groundout by Michael Cripe.
Cayden Smekens drove in a run for the Trojans in the third, then Cory Isenbarger and Bryce Stevenson added a pair of runs in the fourth on fielder’s choice plays.
New Castle didn’t miss many chances after the first inning, leaving just three base runners in scoring position the rest of the night.
“We got out of the first, but after that when they got somebody on base, they got them in,” Johnson said.
Malott mostly had his way with the Marauders, mixing pitches and surrendering just three base runners from the second through sixth innings.
“He kept us off-balance, especially in the third and fourth inning,” Johnson said of Malott, a Western Kentucky commit. “I thought we were going to get to him and maybe punch him out, but they stuck with him and he settled in.”
MV finally found some success in the seventh. After a flyout to begin the frame, Alex McMillan singled and pinch-hitter Andrew Boyle walked. Pinch-hitter Conner Spencer followed with a single to center, plating McMillan.
An out later and a hit batsman later, Malott was removed for Nick Jones. The Marauders’ Joey Turner plated two on an RBI fielder’s choice plus a Trojan error, but Jones got the final out to preserve Malott’s second victory.
The Marauders lose eight seniors, but will return a strong core for 2015.
“We’ve got to play with more heart and more passion next year. If that happens, that team can really be successful because there is a ton of talent coming back,” Johnson said. “… Everything is there for next season, it’s set up. Now, it’s about playing with some passion and some heart. If that happens, I think you’ll see a very good Mt. Vernon ball team next year.”
Notes: Mt. Vernon split a doubleheader with Northwestern Saturday, winning 8-2 and losing 12-10. … MV fell in the 3A Sectional 26 semifinals the past two years. This was the program’s first 4A sectional. … Nathanael Lash started for the Marauders Wednesday and lasted three and 1/3 innings. He was relieved by Kennedy Parker, Wyatt Wills and Zach Spears. … Boyle (Marian University), Norman (Vincennes University), Turner (Kalamazoo Valley (Mich.) Community College), Wills (Lincoln Trail (Ill.) College) and Tyler Langdon (Lincoln Trail) are the MV seniors playing collegiately. … New Castle beat MV 8-1 on April 22. … The Trojans last sectional title came in 1996. For the Marauders, their last sectional championship was in 2011. … New Castle beat Anderson 6-5 on May 6.
Class 4A Sectional 9 Quarterfinal
At Greenfield, Wednesday
New Castle 8, Mt. Vernon 5
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
NC (16-10) 141 200 0 — 8 8 0
MV (12-13) 200 000 3 — 5 6 4
WP: Malott (2-3). LP: Lash (3-2).
NC: Kellogg 2 H, HBP; Malott H, R, 2 SB, 6.2 IP, 5 K ; Smith 2 H, 2 RBI, BB; Smekens 2 H, RBI, R; Darling 2 R.
MV: Mason 2 HBP, R; Norman 2B, RBI; Cripe H, RBI; McMillan 2 H, R; Spencer H, RBI; Turner RBI FC.