MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School baseball team checked one of its goals off its list on Wednesday afternoon at Yellow Jacket Field. The Yellow Jackets avenged an earlier loss to Hilliard Bradley, run-ruling the Jaguars, 11-1, in five innings, and in doing so, clinched at least a share of the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division title.
“This feels great because we had a bad taste in our mouth when we left Bradley,” said Mount Vernon shortstop Tad Glibert. “We thought we were the better team, but we didn’t play very well. To be able to back that up today and win a share of the league is awesome.”
“It is nice to win a share of (the OCC), but these kids aren’t looking for a share,” said Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage. “They want the whole thing, the outright title. In fact, they don’t want to lose any more in the OCC. One of their goals is to go 13-1 in league play, and another one of their goals is to go undefeated at home. That’s big on their minds as well.”
Mount Vernon (18-2, 10-1 OCC Capital) wasted little time getting the bats going against Bradley (13-6, 6-5 OCC Capital). Riley Swanson started the bottom of the first with a single, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice by Robert Kane. Kane moved to third on a single by Derek Baker and a throwing error, and came home on a single by Justin Edwards. Russell Doup then singled to drive in Baker to make it a 2-0 lead. Both Edwards and Doup moved up on a wild pitch by Bradley’s Jackson Everman, and another Jaguar error brought home Edwards for a 3-0 advantage. The Jaguars turned a double play to end the inning.
Ben Hoar, who pitched the game for the Jackets, found himself in a little trouble in the second inning. After setting the side down in order in the first inning, Hoar struck out the leadoff batter before an error and two singles loaded the bases. He settled back in, however, and posted another strikeout and then induced Kevin Bumgarner to fly out to end the inning.
The Jackets added to their lead in the bottom of the second. Kody Green led off with a double to right, and Glibert hit an RBI double, scoring Green. Robert Kane reached on a single before Baker smashed a two-RBI triple to right field to make it a 6-0 game, chasing Everman from the mound. Baker later scored on a wild pitch by Ken Reichle to make it a 7-0 lead after two innings.
“Coach tells us to be tough outs, one through nine, and we’ve really been working on hitting line-drive ground balls,” said Glibert. “We are getting more comfortable at the plate, and seeing the ball better.”
Hoar got some help from his defense in the top of the third. After a one-out single by Luke Simeon, Green and Swanson turned a 5-4-3 double play on a hard hit ball by Trey Welch to end the inning. That was the first of three double plays Mount Vernon turned in the game.
Hoar added to the lead in the bottom of the inning, hitting a leadoff home run to right field, but the Jaguars got it back in the top of the fourth. A leadoff walk to Reichle turned into a run after a pair of one-out singles. A double play by Glibert and Swanson ended the threat for more, however.
“I was thinking double or triple; I was thinking triple off the bat, but it just kept carrying,” said Hoar of his home run. “It was a high outside pitch.”
Mount Vernon continued its hitting barrage in the bottom of the inning, posting three more hits and two more runs. Baker and Edwards reached on back-to-back singles, and Doup walked to load the bases. Alec Curry then singled to left-center, scoring Baker and Edwards. At that point, Bradley made another pitching change, bringing in Dray Hall. Hall managed to get out of the inning without another run scoring, getting a pop-up, a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
The Jackets turned yet another double play in the fifth inning after Bumgarner singled to lead off for Bradley. Jacob Miller grounded out to Glibert, who threw to Swanson who threw on to Edwards. Hoar then struck out Simeon to end the inning with a 10-1 lead.
“I thought we played a nice defensive game once again,” said Savage. “Starting with Ben on the mound, he pitched pretty well for us. Our infielders turned three double plays in five innings, and those are pitchers’ best friends. They were needed. ... I thought our defensive infield play was very good and went right along with what Ben was trying to do on the mound.”
Mount Vernon needed just one run to end the game, and it didn’t take long in the bottom of the inning for that to happen. Swanson flied out to start the inning, but Kane was hit by a pitch to give the Jackets a base runner. Kane stole second and moved to third on a balk before Baker was intentionally walked, putting runners on the corners. Edwards saw one pitch before Hall threw the ball high, missing catcher Spencer Gates’ target. The ball went all the way to the backstop, allowing Kane to score easily.
“We were very disappointed when we lost to them the first time because we shouldn’t have lost to them,” said Hoar. “We were ready to play today. I struggled there a little bit, but my defense made three double plays, which helped me out a lot.”
Hoar picked up the win for Mount Vernon, allowing one earned run on six hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out four. Baker led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored. Edwards was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and Kane scored three times in the game.
Winning a share of the OCC title, while important, isn’t the Jackets only goal. They want to win it outright, which they can do with a win on Friday at Watkins Memorial. First, however, they will take on the visiting Mansfield Madison Rams this afternoon.
“These will be important games for us,” said Savage. “Wins on Thursday and Friday will help us with seeding, obviously, when we go over to the tournament draw on Sunday. The better your record is, the more wins you have, the better your seed is, and the better your chances of playing a home game.”