MOUNT VERNON — For the second time in as many days, a mix of strong pitching, outstanding defense and timely hitting led the Mount Vernon High School baseball team past the Big Walnut Golden Eagles. Robert Kane pitched seven strong innings of two-run baseball and his teammates pounded out 10 hits in a 9-2 victory on Friday night at Yellow Jacket Field. Mount Vernon beat Big Walnut, 7-3, in a nonconference game on Thursday.
“This was a good overall effort,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “It all starts on the mound, and I thought Robert Kane was in total control. He is a strike thrower, and he didn’t walk anybody. He is mostly going to make them hit the ball, and we played very solid defense. We got some big hits, one through nine. We had some production up and down the order and were able to produce nine runs. It was a beautiful day.”
Kane limited Big Walnut (3-7, 0-2 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division) to just eight hits, walked none and struck out four. He really only faced one serious challenge in the game — in the fifth inning — and got the first two batters out in six of the seven innings. Kane (2-1) sat down the side in order on four occasions.
“I thought this was my best outing of the season,” said Kane. “My first outing wasn’t good; I gave up too many walks, threw too many balls and had too high of a pitch count. Then I was able to come back against Delaware and do better, but I still threw too many. Today, I didn’t walk anybody and it showed on the field.”
At the plate, Mount Vernon (7-2, 3-1 OCC) put together two big innings, scoring four runs each in the bottom of the second and sixth innings. The Yellow Jackets added a run in the bottom of the fifth, and had runners on base every inning.
“This was nice. We’ve been sitting in the dugout, waiting on the rain to stop. It felt good today to get back out here and get a win,” said Mount Vernon senior Ty Benson. “We hit the ball well. ... We gave Robert the support he needs. We were able to make the plays.”
Benson led the way with three hits, including a one-out double in the second inning. He scored the first run after a single by Aaron Watts, who went 2-for-4, and an RBI double by Brian Hoar. Both Watts and Hoar then scored on a double to left by Kolton Wilson, who later scored after a Big Walnut error.
Big Walnut tried to get back into the game in the fifth inning. With just two hits in the first four innings, the Golden Eagles began to find Kane’s rhythm in the inning. Joe Curran led off with bunt single and moved to second on a single by Kevin Shaw. Then, after Jordan DeWitt followed with a single, Curran tried to score. He was gunned down at home plate, however, as the Hoar-to-Justin Edwards-to-Watts relay beat him with time to spare. The Golden Eagles continued hitting, though, and Luke Woerner singled in Shaw. Grant Beam beat out an infield hit to load the bases, before DeWitt came home on a fielder’s choice by Ben Romer. Kane got out of the inning after grabbing a line drive off the bat of Tyler Beam.
“I figured they kind of started timing me up, but at no point did I think it was getting away,” said Kane. “I know our defense is too solid to let that happen.”
With the gap narrowed, the Jackets went back to work in the bottom of the inning. A one-out, two-base error by Grant Beam left Ben Severns safe at second. A fielder’s choice by Luke Wilson advanced Severns to third and an RBI single by Benson brought him home to make it a 5-2 game. Benson went to second after a throwing error on the same play, but was stranded after Watts flied out to center.
Then, in the bottom of the sixth, the Jackets once again broke the game open. A leadoff off error by Curran left Hoar on base. Kolton Wilson was then hit by the next pitch, and Tad Glibert came in to run for Hoar. A fielder’s choice by Kane advanced both base runners, and another fielder’s choice by Alec Curry scored Glibert. Glibert beat Shaw’s throw home and left Curry safe in the process. Edwards followed with a single to right, scoring Kolton Wilson. Severns singled to center to load the bases once again and chase Big Walnut starter Bryan Dillon from the game.
Luke Wilson welcomed Andrew Bower to the game with a sacrifice fly, scoring pinch runner Kody Green from third. Green was running for Curry. Mount Vernon wasn’t done, though. Benson singled in Edwards with the ninth run of the game before the inning ended.
Big Walnut had one last chance in the top of the seventh inning, but that too was short-lived. Kane struck out Shaw for the second time in the game to get things going. DeWitt then singled to center, but Woerner hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end the ball game and seal the Mount Vernon win.
In addition to multiple hits from Benson and Watts, Kolton Wilson had a hit, scored twice and drove in two. Hoar and Edwards each had a hit, a run scored and an RBI; and Severns had a hit and run scored. Mount Vernon six through nine hitters — Benson, Watts, Hoar and Kolton Wilson — combined to go 7-for-13 with six runs scored, including Glibert’s, and five RBI.
“We try to have a good lineup from leadoff clear through the nine hole,” Savage said. “I’ve always felt that. I’m not sure which area is more important, but it seems you need to have good hitters all the way through. Today, it was the bottom part of the order that did a lot of damage, but tomorrow, it might be the top part. As long as somebody is going damage, that is all that really matters.”
The win was important for the Jackets, who needed to keep pace with OCC front runner New Albany. The two teams are scheduled to meet on Monday in a kickoff of a very busy week for Mount Vernon. The Jackets are scheduled to play six days straight, including four league games, and finish up the week with a doubleheader against Lexington on Saturday at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
“This was an OCC game, every OCC game is important,” said Savage. “You only play 12 of them and you can’t afford many losses in league play. Right now, New Albany is the only team in the league that is undefeated, so you can see how teams are sorting out. One is knocking off this one and another is knocking off that one. We are just trying to win every game we can in the league. Monday, obviously, is going to be a very important game.
“We are going to have to test some of our other pitchers this next week. ... They are going to have to step up and be huge on the mound for us.”
First, however, Mount Vernon must play a doubleheader today at home against Newark Catholic, which was a Division IV Regional Finalist last season. The Green Wave are 5-3 this season. The first pitch today is schedule for noon.
“It is fun to get out there every day and give it another shot,” said Benson. “If you have a bad day, it gives you another shot to go at it again. We have to stay mentally tough and go at it hard.”