MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets (8-2) overwhelmed perennial powerhouse Newark Catholic 15-5 in the opener and outlasted them 9-5 in the nightcap to pull off an important sweep before heading into intensive league play.
“It was a good day for us,” Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage said. “(Pitcher) Luke Wilson did a nice job for us and our bats came alive in the second half of that game.”
With the Green Wave (6-5) on top in the opener, 4-2, the Jackets broke out in the third inning with some thunder from the bottom of the batting order. Right fielder Brian Hoar and shortstop Kolton Wilson got back-to back two-RBI singles to give Mount Vernon a 6-4 lead.
Mount Vernon starter Luke Wilson (six innings pitched, five runs, eight hits, two strikeouts, two walks) meanwhile, was only touched up for four hits and two runs after the second inning. Luke Wilson (2-0) helped his own cause with three hits, three runs and one RBI.
After extending their lead to 9-5, the Jackets batted around in a wild and woolly bottom sixth. Four hits, two errors, a walk and a hit batsman later, the Jackets had six more runs on the board, winning on the mercy rule, 15-5.
Second-game starter Kolton Wilson (1-0), who was coming off an injury, seemed unable to find the plate when he took the mound for the Jackets in Game 2. He ran into trouble in the third and fourth innings, giving up three hits, walking five and allowing a couple of pairs of runs to cross the plate.
“I threw way too many pitches today, too many full counts and I couldn’t throw strikes,” said Kolton Wilson.
That left the Jackets down, 4-2, but not for very long. Things unraveled quickly for Green Wave starting pitcher Kevin Cox in the bottom of the fourth.
An error by Newark Catholic first baseman Tony Guinta was followed by three straight walks. The last one, issued to Jackets’ shortstop Tad Glibert, pushed centerfielder Russell Doup home to close the Green Wave lead to 4-3.
With the bases leaded and one out, Mount Vernon designated hitter Derek Baker took Cox’s third offering deep for the first grand slam of his high school career, giving the Jackets a 7-4 lead.
“It was like euphoria to me,” said Baker. “I haven’t really been driving the ball as much but, now I’m feeling confident and I’m getting back into the swing of things and keep it going, hopefully.”
In the meantime, Kolton Wilson was finding the strike zone with his wicked curve ball, which comes in two flavors.
“My curve ball was working for me and it was more consistent than my fastball was,” said Kolton Wilson. “I throw one a little bit harder than the other one, giving it a nice, tight spin. The other one is a looping curve ball coming in.”
“He has a nice breaking pitch,” said Savage. “It has a late, sharp break to it and it goes down pretty hard. He threw a lot of pitches today. I was really thinking about taking him out with an inning or two to go, but he’s a tough kid. He wanted to finish and he got the job done and closed the deal for us.”
In the sixth, Newark Catholic had runners at first and second with only one out. Newark Catholic’s Chris Liebold, who is from Mount Vernon, flied out to Doup in center to hold the runners.
“I thought Russell patrolled center field very well,” said Savage. “He caught several fly balls for us out there.”
Green Wave second baseman and cleanup hitter Andy Vernon popped up Kolton Wilson’s very first pitch into foul territory in shallow right field. It looked like it would fall between first baseman Nate Jarrell and right fielder Mike Vilfer, but suddenly, second baseman Kodi Green, running at full gallop, dove headlong over Vilfer and made a sensational catch to protect his team’s three-run lead.
“It was a beautiful catch,” said Kolton Wilson. “One in a million. I though Nate was going to have it and then, all of a sudden, Kodi called him off and dove over Mike Vilfer and got the catch. It saved a couple of runs.”
Green led off the following inning with a single, advancing to third on an error to Newark shortstop Matt Lewis, who misplayed a ball batted by Glibert. On the same play, Liebold overthrew the third baseman, allowing Green to score while Glibert advanced to third.
“We’re very aggressive on the base paths, especially from second to home,” said Savage. “We don’t really steal that much, but if you miss a cutoff man, we are going to move up a base. We put a lot of pressure on, especially, outfielders to make good throws.”
Baker followed with a solid line drive into left field for another RBI, giving him six for the day.
“I felt confident,” said Baker. “I’m just trying to keep it going and help the team out any way I can. My most important role on the team is hitting the ball so that’s what I need to do. Whatever we need to do to get to the ultimate goal of an OCC title.”
“Derek went into a little bit of a slump for a couple of games,” said Savage. “I think he was just pressing to hard and trying to force everything. You really can’t do that in baseball. There’s really a fine line between aggressive and pressing. I was just real happy to see him get that grand slam.”
Still, the Jackets had one more solid defensive play in them as left fielder Alec Curry caught a sinking fly ball, which allowed one last Green Wave run to score, but quelled their last threat allowing the Jackets to complete the sweep.
“We played fundamentally sound defense and got some timely hits,’ said Savage. “That’s the formula for winning games.”
Today, the Yellow Jackets are scheduled to travel to New Albany for a league showdown. Olentangy Orange will visit on Tuesday and try to play a twice-postponed game. The Jackets will go to Orange on Wednesday, and then Thursday, the Jackets visit Marion Harding. Friday, Delaware will visit and Saturday, the Jackets have a doubleheader with Lexington.
“Our pitching staff is going to get tested,” said Savage. “It’s not just Ben (Severns) and Robert (Kane) but also some of the guys that are on down the list like Luke Wilson and Kolton Wilson, and they’ll get some more time. Maybe even Russell Doup and Aaron Watts. They’re getting tested next week.”