MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Orange right fielder Griffin Menke put his team ahead early, and pitcher Alex Arck kept it there. In the end, Orange won the 2009 Memorial Classic Tournament in convincing fashion, downing the LCSA Ballers, 14-3, at Phillips Park on Saturday.
Menke (two homers, five RBI, three runs, three hits) launched a two-run homer in the first. His shot was a line drive that drilled the brand-new scoreboard in left field and drove home catcher J.D. Orr. That gave Orange a 2-1 lead.
After LCSA tied it up in the top of the second, Orr hit another two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put Orange back in front, 4-2. Orr scored four runs in the game.
It was Menke again in the third, leading off with a single and scoring on a triple by third baseman Ryan Fitzgerald to make it a 7-3 Orange lead.
Fitzgerald and shortstop Lucas Zambori eventually scored to increase Orange’s lead to 9-3. Fitzgerald had two triples, a double and scored three times.
In the meantime, Arck grew stronger on the mound. After scattering four hits and three runs over the first three innings, Arck only gave up a single to LCSA reliever Cory West the rest of the way.
“Alex pitched good throughout the year,” said Mount Vernon Orange coach Phil Arck. “He showed that he’s getting that little strength back. It’s good to see that.”
“Usually the hitters pick me up on my team,” said Alex Arck, who fired a complete game for Orange. “They start chattering and help me get more strikeouts as I go. I worked on my curveball and it was working pretty good today.”
The Orange defense was strong with Arck, Fitzgerald and Menke going errorless throughout the tournament — the result of hard work and preparation.
“We always (practice) with four corners,” said Menke. “ We usually run so we can get better. We always do grounders and flyballs.”
The big show, however, was 11 Orange hits. Even West, one of the tournament’s outstanding players, could not stop Orange bats, giving up nine runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. Orange finished the Classic Tournament with a tournament-record 14 homers, eclipsing the old record of seven set by Warsaw in 1999. Orr belted six in the tournament, which is an individual best, breaking the mark of Mansfield Madison’s Robert Curwin (4) in 2008. As a team, Orange hit .482, smashing the old record held by Mount Vernon City in 1995, .448.
Orr and Arck scored once more when they were chased home on back-to-back doubles by shortstop Lucas Zambori and left fielder Jarred Pryor, widening the gap to 11-3.
In the fifth, it was Orr and Arck again, drawing a pair of walks to set the table for Menke with two out. Menke took LCSA reliever Jacob Snelling’s second offering deep to left. Although the scoreboard was spared the second bruise of its young life, the ball landed among the cars parked beyond the left field fence to give Orange a 14-3 lead and invoke the mercy rule.
“I just wanted (the game) to be over,” said a relieved Menke. “I just wanted to end it.”
“Griffin did a good job hitting the ball today,” said coach Arck. “He came up big at the end of the game and finished the game early.”
NOTES: It wasn’t just hitting records which fell. West set a new record for pitching strikeouts with 50, breaking Luke Freshwater’s old mark of 32 set in 2000 for Mount Vernon City. LCSA also struck out an average of 8.7 batters in each of their four games to break Dresden’s old mark of 6.9 batters in seven games set in 1991.