Mt. Vernon loses pitchers’ duel in season opener


INDIANAPOLIS — With a pitching staff like Mt. Vernon’s, holding opposing teams to a few runs could be the norm during the 2024 season.

To win games, the Marauders will need runs from a new-look lineup.

Monday, in the season opener, they out-hit the opposition, Franklin Central, but baserunning mistakes and errors in the field cost them the game.

On a dreary, rainy evening at Franklin Central High School, the Marauders fell 2-1 to the host Flashes.

“That’s the crazy thing about baseball, it’s a team sport but when you’re in the box it’s an individual sport, when you’re fielding the ball it’s an individual sport, and the same when you’re pitching. We have to have guys step up and adjust to it,” Mt. Vernon head coach Brad King said. “First game though, and we want to make sure we come out against Delta and play really well. We want to do well in the conference.”

The last of a few fielding errors made by the Marauders allowed Franklin Central to grab the lead in the sixth.

In a 1-1 game with runners on second and third base with one out, shortstop Gage Blanchard caught a hard line drive for the second out.

He then tried to get the third.

With Franklin Central’s Jack Cecil caught off the bag at third base, Blanchard attempted the quick toss for a double play. A rushed throw got by Mason Meyer and allowed Cecil to sprint home for the eventual winning run.

“We called the infield in, got the line drive we needed, and then just rushed,” King said. “That’s one where you either put it in your back pocket or you settle down a bit and make sure you make the throw. You want to be quick but not in a hurry, and that’s what happened there.”

Needing a run to tie in the seventh, the Marauders were sent down on strikes by Franklin Central’s Weston Harvey.

Mt. Vernon grabbed the early lead on a first-inning, RBI-single by senior Nick Heitman.

The hit came one batter after one of the Marauders top returning hitters, and starting first baseman, DJ Scheumann, went down with a knee injury following a swing. Scheumann was removed from the game immediately.

“Offensively, that hurts. You lose your three-hitter on a fluke situation where he swings and twists his knee. If he’s in the lineup and gets two or three more at-bats maybe it’s a different scenario,” King said. “That might have taken a little wind out of us too.”

Following the Heitman single, the Marauders were held hitless for the next three innings. In the fifth, singles by Josh James and Will Jacobs ended the drought, but a flyout by Heitman ended the inning with runners on first and third.

Baserunning mistakes in the first and fourth innings cost the Marauders more offensive chances. Aggressive baserunning helped the Marauders create scoring opportunities but also took them out of opportunities. On the night, they had seven stolen bases, but a few times after those steals runners were thrown out at third base on ground balls to the shortstop.

“Baserunning was huge, we ran ourselves out of multiple innings. That’s stuff you can work on at practice, but until you get in and get that game feel, it’s tough,” King said. “Even though we’re telling guys when the ball is hit in front of them to just wait, it’s a new experience for them right now. That definitely hurt us.”

The first Franklin Central run to tie things at 1-1 came in the fourth inning. After a strikeout by starting pitcher Tristan Sitton to open the frame, the next two Flashes reached base.

After a hit-by-pitch and walk, Sitton was replaced by Griffin Raquet.

A ground ball up the middle that hit off of a Mt. Vernon glove allowed Elijah Thompson to score from second base.

“At the end of the day, I think we’re going to be a pretty good fielding team. We just didn’t field it very well tonight,” King said. “A lot of these guys played JV last year, so they need to get used to the speed of the game.”

On the mound, juniors Sitton and Raquet shined in their first varsity appearances.

Sitton threw 3.1 innings and allowed just one hit and one run while striking out three. Raquet closed out the rest of the game, allowing just one hit and one run. He struck out two over his 2.2 innings of work.

“I loved what I saw from them. Tristan went about 10 more pitches than I wanted him to but I thought he commanded it well. His last inning he didn’t get a couple of calls that he was getting earlier and that hurt him a bit,” King said. “I thought Griffin was outstanding as well, and that’s what we need right now with a couple of guys not throwing for a bit. We have to have performances like this from those two against non-conference teams.”

The Marauders are back in action Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the road at Delta.

Franklin Central 2, Mt. Vernon 1

Mt. Vernon (0-1);100;000;0;—;1;4;4

Franklin Central (1-2);000;101;x;—;2;2;2

Tristan Sitton, Griffin Raquet (4) and Grant Payson; Ben Uhlmansiek, Nolan Fetters (6), Weston Harvey (7) and Dylan Richards. WP: Fetters (1-0). LP: Racquet (0-1).