MOUNT VERNON — Four days into the season, the Mount Vernon High School varsity baseball team’s bats finally woke up. The Yellow Jackets got a solid outing out of sophomore pitcher Shawn Maxwell, and banged out 12 hits in a 11-1 rout of the River View Black Bears at Yellow Jacket Field on Thursday. It is Maxwell’s first varsity win.
“This feels pretty good,” said Maxwell. “I didn’t pitch as well as I thought I could, but a win is a win. ... My defense helped me a lot, because when they hit the ball, they were able to make a play on it.”
Another sophomore, Riley Swanson, provided the spark to get the Jackets (3-0) going. Swanson hit a 1-1 pitch off River View (0-3) starter Skylar Adams which found its way over the fence in dead center field. That was just the start for Swanson, however. He finished the night 3-for-3, including two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. He also hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“I was just looking to get a base hit, and I got a hold of the ball a little bit. I just went after it,” said Swanson of his home run. “It was just one of those days where the ball seemed like it was a beach ball. I just went in there swinging.
“I was just thankful that I got this opportunity, and hopefully, I’ll get more as the season goes on.”
From there, the hitting was contagious. Mount Vernon put up two runs in each of the first two innings, getting timely hits from Justin Edwards (a double), Ben Hoar, Ethan Abell, Swanson and Tad Glibert. The Jackets then broke the game open in the fourth inning after the Bears cut into the lead with a run in the top of the fourth.
“This was a better hitting day today,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “The temperatures were warm and the wind was blowing out, but the people we put in the lineup today did a nice job offensively. Riley Swanson’s leadoff home run kind of started the momentum our way and it just kind of snowballed from there. We had several nice, solid hit line drives. We did a good job.”
Kenny Rucker led off with a double down the right-field line, and an error left Matt Boucher safe and allowed Rucker to score. Boucher, meanwhile, moved up to second on the error, stole third and then scored on the sac fly by Swanson. Glibert then walked, moved around to third on two passed balls, and then scored on a double by Kolton Wilson. Wilson eventually came home on another River View error to make it an 8-1 ball game.
That was enough to chase Adams, who was relieved by John Brillhart, but Brillhart had less success. He managed just one out against the four batters he faced, hitting Boucher with a pitch before giving up an RBI double to Swanson and an RBI single to Glibert. Cory Saylor then relieved Brillhart and promptly got Wilson to ground out. That, however, was the only out he got as Edwards walked and Maxwell, batting for himself for the first time in the game, hit a single to score Glibert and invoke the run-rule.
“I just kept thinking, ‘Hit the ball and put it in play,’” said Maxwell.
Maxwell pitched all five innings for Mount Vernon, allowing one earned run on six hits and two walks. He did not hit a batter and struck out four.
“Shawn did a good job; it wasn’t his best performance, but for the most part, he threw strikes,” said Savage. “(River View) had guys on first and third a few times, and they hit some hard line drives, but he hung in there and battled. He’s not going to blow you away, and he’s not going to strike out a ton of people, but he can get the job done. Our philosophy is throw for contact, make them hit the ball and our defense will try to make the plays behind our pitchers.”
The win caps off a great start to the season for the Jackets. After getting only one scrimmage in due to poor weather conditions, Mount Vernon played all four of its games and won three. The only blemish was a suspended game against Clear Fork in the opener. The game will be completed in its entirety on Thursday at Yellow Jacket Field, beginning at 5 p.m.
“This (week) has been a confidence builder,” Maxwell said. “Tying with Clear Fork really helped us a lot and gave us confidence that we can compete with good teams.”
After taking three days off for the Easter weekend, the Jackets will turn their focus to league play. On Monday, they travel to Olentangy Orange in their Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division opener.
“This week has been a lot like our scrimmage season because we didn’t get hardly any in,” said Savage. “We were fortunate to get all four games in. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of action before we go into league play. It is going to be a big week. Monday, we are at Orange; Wednesday, we have Delaware; and Friday, we play (Franklin) Heights, so we will be thrown into the fire right from the get-go. Think this week has gotten us ready for that.”