MOUNT VERNON — Once Mount Vernon starting pitcher Ben Severns thawed out, he put on a terrific pitching performance and finished the cold, wet day with seven strikeouts and five shutout innings. The only problem is that he spotted Olentangy Orange a six-run lead, before the Jackets came up to bat in inning No. 2.
“The first two innings were kind of a blur, now,” said Severns (3-1). “They (Orange) were hitting the ball well and that’s what a good hitting team needs to do.”
The Yellow Jackets rebounded, however, and took home an 8-6 victory over the Pioneers.
A one-run single by Orange pitcher Garrett Sheehan and a three-run homer by designated hitter Jacob Harris highlighted a 4-run first.
“Ben got the leadoff man (to strike out) looking,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “Then we ended up giving up four runs including a three-run home run. We were down 6-0 before we realized what was going on.”
After that, Severns settled down and started setting down the Pioneers.
“Luckily my defense stayed behind me and I was able to settle after those first two innings,” said Severns. “Once I got through the order once, I felt like I knew where to pitch it. Also, it’s pretty cold out today so just the loosening up factor going out there and trying to figure out how that mound is working on a soggy day like this was tough. Luckily, we got it done today.”
Once Severns got rolling, it seemed that the rest of the Jackets followed, sending 10 men to the plate in the second and getting back all six runs. Mount Vernon centerfielder Robert Kane had a two-run single in the inning. Severns himself tied it up with a two-RBI single of his own.
“I challenged the kids a little bit,” said Savage. “I wanted to see if we had any competitors left here and, by golly, they responded really well and they put up eight runs for us today.”
Success on offense spawned success on defense — especially on the Wilson side of the infield.
Third baseman Luke Wilson made a terrific stab off a grounder, throwing out the Orange catcher Garrett Carter from the seat of his pants to end the top of the third inning.
“(Luke’s) feet went out from under him,” said Savage. “He threw the runner out from his third base position while sitting down.”
Not to be outdone, shortstop Kolton Wilson made a backhanded dive into the hole, got up and threw out the Orange second baseman Luke Wolford at first to get the final out in the top of the fourth.
“That really picked us up as a team and got us into the game,” said Severns. “That’s what we needed at that time.”
Mount Vernon designated hitter Derek Baker doubled and scored in the fourth inning and first baseman Justin Edwards scored on a Severns double in the sixth. That would be all the Jackets would need.
Jackets catcher Aaron Watts cut down a runner trying the steal in the sixth and made a diving catch of a foul pop up on the first base side off the bat of Jarred Leet in the game’s final inning.
Severns finished strong, striking out a pair of batters in the final inning to notch a complete game and a win.
“Today, my two-seamer was diving more than it usually does,” said Severns. “Maybe it was a combination with the wind kicking in a little. I also had that extra confidence that my team gave me with that run support.”
“Between (Severns) pitching and settling down the last five innings and our bit of offense, we were able to muster up and pull out an OCC win, which is always important,” said Savage.
So is today’s rematch at Olentangy Orange High School, scheduled for 5 p.m.
“They’re all important because you only play 12 of them,” said Savage, who will be sending Nate Jarrell to the mound to face the Pioneers. “They’ll be throwing a kid named Bailey, who is 4-0, so we will have to go over there with our heads screwed on properly and be the aggressor.”