MOUNT VERNON — A 10-strikeout performance by Mount Vernon pitcher Ben Hoar (1-0), combined with Russell Doup’s first home run, was all the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets needed on on Wednesday. The Jackets road both to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Licking Valley Panthers in nonconference baseball action at Mount Vernon High School.
After giving up an early run with his only walk of the game, Hoar was all composure and wouldn’t let a couple of defensive breakdowns get the best of him.
Down 2-1 in the third, and facing Panthers pitcher Nick Moore on the mound, Mount Vernon (2-0-1) shortstop Kolton Wilson singled for the Jackets. Two batters later, the lefty-swinging Doup got hold of a Moore pitch that he doubted was going to go out.
“It felt great,” said Doup of his first varsity home run. “Coach told me to get in front of the ball. I really just thought of it for a second, put it in the back of my mind and stood in there and swung, basically, and it ended up being a home run. I was watching. At first the ball got up pretty high. I was expecting it to drop in so I was just running hard to make sure I’d get as many bases as I could.”
Wilson tore around third and only slowed to a dignified trot when he finally realized that it was going over the fence. Savage, on the other hand, knew it was gone right away.
“I don’t think that Russell knew it was going to be gone, but he got all of that one,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “That one was crushed. Once I saw it get up. Once I saw how high it was and how well he hit it, I pretty much thought it was going to be gone. You’ve got to hit the ball pretty well in this park to get it out. Down the lines, it’s 335 and he hit it close to 350 feet. Kolton was running hard and we were going to try to score him if that had been a double and we tell him to do that anyway — he was running hard with two outs.”
That gave Hoar something to work with and he took advantage.
“Russell’s home run helped us out a lot,” said Hoar. “It gave me more confidence up on the mound, and it helped me to focus on having the lead and I wouldn’t give it up.”
After getting touched up for a pair of hits in the third, Hoar allowed only one hit the rest of the way, striking out the side in the sixth.
“Coach always says to get ahead in the count,” said Hoar. “That’s what I did that inning. When I’m 0-1 or 0-2, I can throw my junk pitches and make them chase after it. I can throw it all over the strike zone and they can chase and that’s what they did.”
Hoar finished the seventh with a pair of slow bouncers back to the mound, including the final out by Licking Valley shortstop Tregg Hall, to cap a complete game and Hoar’s first varsity win.
“Early in the year, your arm’s kind of sore getting back in the groove,” said Hoar. “I felt well today. I knew I just had to throw strikes and I didn’t have to overpower anyone. I knew my defense would back me up.”
“Ben pitched a heck of a game for us,” said Savage of his junior starter. “He was able to strikeout 10 guys and walked one. I’m real proud of Ben. He pitched a good game for us.”