PENDLETON — Hitting balls in the gap created a comfortable gap in the final score.
Seven of Mt. Vernon’s 13 hits were doubles, leading the Marauders to a 9-3 victory over Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Pendleton Heights at Bill Stoudt Field, Tuesday.
Six different players had two-baggers and five of the extra-base knocks drove in runs.
“We came out and were focused at the plate,” Mt. Vernon head coach Brad King said. “We hit the ball as well tonight as we have at any point in the season.”
Landon Clark had the first of the seven doubles. The Marauders’ first first-inning hit drove in Gavin Johnston, who had walked, for the game’s first run. Konnor Scheidt had an RBI-single to score Clark.
In the third, Mt. Vernon got back-to-back doubles from Russell Weaver and Gavin Sullivan. Clark, who had walked and stole a base, scored on Weaver’s hit. Sullivan, who later came across on a throwing error on a double-steal play, drove in Weaver. It gave the Marauders a 5-1 lead.
“Any time you can drive the gaps, get some extra base hits, and apply pressure to the defense, you’re better off for that,” King said. “We did. We came out with good approaches at the plate and looked for pitches we could drive. We did a really nice job.”
It was plenty of support for Marauder junior ace Eli Bridenthal, who struck out nine and gave up just three hits and one earned run.
He improved to 4-0 on the season. He threw a complete game and retired the final eight Arabian hitters. Three of the eight came on strikeouts. Four were ground ball outs. Only one ball left the infield.
“Eli is just so focused,” King said of Bridenthal. “He prepares for each outing. He sends me his scouting report. He looks at the other team and sends that to me before every game. He’s focused and he knows what he wants to do to every hitter in the lineup. He’s the consummate professional when it comes to being on the mound and he has that bulldog mentality.
“He just wants to go out and compete. When you have that kind of drive and that kind of commitment, you’re going to have success.”
The win kept Mt. Vernon within one game of first-place New Castle. The Marauders are 6-1 in the HHC and 8-5 overall. New Castle is 7-0 in league play and 8-0 in all games. Pendleton Heights dropped to 1-6 in conference games and 4-9 in all contests. Tuesday’s league games marked the halfway point of the 14-game HHC schedule.
Pendleton Heights took advantage of the few hits it had and mistakes Mt. Vernon made in the field.
Trailing 5-1, leadoff hitter Caleb Frakes tripled to right field, then scored on a Mt. Vernon errant throw attempting to get the speedy Arabian out at third base.
Down 6-2 in the fifth, Pendleton Heights’ Jalen Jordan reached on an infield throwing error, then advanced to third on Mt. Vernon’s second bad throw of the inning. He scored on Ricky Howell’s ground out to cut Mt. Vernon’s lead to 6-3. Frakes followed with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a stolen base, but he was left stranded.
Frakes had two of his team’s three hits. Nate Gilmet had an RBI-single in the first inning.
Mt. Vernon extended its lead with three more runs in its final at-bat. Sullivan, who had three hits, led off with a single. Austin Hear, who doubled earlier in the game, followed with a single.
With one out, Bryce Miller hit an RBI-double down the left field line. He had an RBI earlier in the game on a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.
Hear scored and Miller moved to third on a sac fly off the bat of Bridenthal. Miller came in to score on Gavin Johnston’s second double of the game.
“The last couple of games we haven’t had great approaches at the plate,” Pendleton Heights head coach Matt Vosburgh said. “I thought our focus at the plate was a more competitive approach for us. It was good to see our guys go up and fight. We were swinging the bats and putting the ball in play, for the most part. They gapped a few more balls than we gapped. Our balls stayed on the infield, there’s got driven to the outfield. They just hit us and we didn’t help ourselves a couple of times with plays in the field.
“When you’re playing a team like that, when they’re gapping baseballs, you can’t help them out by making some mistakes in the infield.”
To finish off their two-game HHC series, the teams meet again today at Mt. Vernon. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Mt. Vernon 9, Pendleton Heights 3
Mt. Vernon (8-5, 6-1);203;010;3; —;9;13;3
Pendleton Heights (4-9, 1-6);101;010;0; —;3;3;2
2B: Gavin Johnston 2 (MV), Landon Clark (MV), Austin Hear (MV), Russell Weaver (MV), Gavin Sullivan (MV), Bryce Miller (MV); 3B: Caleb Frakes (PH)
WP: Eli Bridenthal (4-0, 7 IP, 9K 3H, 1 ER). LP: Jalen Jordan.