FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central are two baseball teams very familiar with one another.
The Hancock County rivals, and Hoosier Heritage Conference members are guaranteed to meet twice during the regular season, and some seasons it just so happens the two meet in the sectional.
For Greenfield-Central head coach Mark Vail, that familiarity made it clear just how important taking advantage of every scoring situation would be if they were to advance to the next round.
On Wednesday, the Cougars didn’t take advantage of enough of those situations, while Mt. Vernon did, and that led to a 10-6 Mt. Vernon win in the opener of IHSAA Class 4A Sectional 9 at Mt. Vernon.
“Baseball’s a game where you have to get hits when you need them. They got theirs early in the game, and we didn’t get enough of those,” Vail said. “And once they get up, there’s just too much firepower on that offense, and they got to us.”
Mt. Vernon’s ability to take advantage of those situations and score in the clutch was the difference, and it showed early.
In the opening half of the first inning, Russell Weaver came through with a two-run, two-out single to give the Marauders an early 2-0 lead.
After the opening two batters of the inning were sent back to the dugout, a walk to Nick Heitman and then an intentional walk to Konnor Scheidt brought up Weaver.
“It changes things a little bit. It makes me just want to go up there and hit the ball really hard,” Weaver said of the intentional walk. “It felt great to get that hit, and it was big. I struggled a lot against them earlier in the year, so that was huge.”
The Cougars scored one run in each of the next three innings to take their first and only lead of the game, but they could’ve had even more.
In the second inning, Landon Brooks scored on a passed ball, but the Cougars left a runner stranded on third, and in the third inning a Connor Sims triple scored Grant Shepherd, but he was left on third to end things.
And then in the sixth and seventh innings, Greenfield-Central runners were left on both second and third base.
While the Cougars left runners out there, the Marauders took back the lead, and kept piling on.
Another two-out, two-run single in the fifth gave Mt. Vernon the lead back. Starting pitcher Cam Sullivan helped himself out with a bloop single to left field to bring in the go-ahead runs.
“All year, we’ve been a team that scored runs with two outs. This group, for whatever reason, they thrive in pressure situations, which I love. It’s all their mindset, and tonight we got a lot of two-out runs, and we got runs late,” Mt. Vernon head coach Brad King said. “Sometimes we don’t start real quick, but in those fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh innings, we tend to be able to put some numbers up.” We had a really nice Monday and Tuesday of practice, so I thought we would end up playing pretty well, and I think it ended up being that way.”
The Marauders added two more in the sixth, and four more in the seventh to cushion their lead.
Heitman knocked in two with a single in the sixth, and DJ Scheumann highlighted the seventh with another two-out hit, this time a triple to score two runs. Three of the Mt. Vernon runs in the inning came with two outs.
Sullivan got the start for Mt. Vernon, and allowed four runs over five-plus innings of work. He struck out six, allowed four hits, and walked five.
“We made the decision that after Eli [Bridenthal], Cam is our ace, and he was going to start game one. He’s got swing and miss stuff, and he’s able to dominate even when he’s not sharp,” King said. “Once he gets to the point where he’s not walking guys and getting that pitch count up, he’s already a special pitcher, but he’s going to be even more special. If you don’t give up those free bases, guys are put in situations where they have to hit their way on, and that’s tough to do against a guy throwing 93 or 94.”
For Greenfield-Central, Jaden Markus got the start and allowed five runs over five innings.
“I thought Jaden pitched really well,” Vail said. “He walked a few too many people, but that happens. He’s a bulldog for us, that’s why we started him, and he worked pretty hard at it.”
The Marauders will face Anderson in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mt. Vernon High School.
Mt. Vernon 10, Greenfield-Central 6
Mt. Vernon (21-7);200;022;4;—;10;9;1
Cam Sullivan, Jack Peine (6) and DJ Scheumann. Jaden Markus, Connor Sims (6) and Brodie Mayberry. 2B: G-C – Andrew Zellers. 3B: MV – Scheumann. G-C – Sims. WP: Sullivan. LP: Markus.