MOUNT VERNON — An offensive game for five innings, the 9- & 10-year-old District 5 Little League championship came down to pitching and defense on Saturday night.
The Mount Vernon 10s rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and then made three sparkling defensive plays in the top of the sixth to stun the Southwest Licking All-Stars, 11-10, at Phillips Park. The win secured the title for an undefeated Mount Vernon squad, which will represent District 5 at the State Tournament beginning July 31 in Ironton.
“This fits right in with our whole concept of teamwork,” said Mount Vernon manager Steve Franko. “Somebody is going to step up and help us win every day. We don’t know who it is going to be, but we know it is going to happen. ... I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. They played positions they hadn’t played much before and were committed to playing as a team.”
Mount Vernon starting pitcher Dustin Hess started the game out well, setting Southwest Licking down in order in the top of the first. His offense backed him up with a four-run lead in the bottom of the inning, getting three straight singles from Nate Orr, Marcus Shellenbarger and Isaac Stallard. Southwest Licking also made a couple of errors and pitcher Tyler Caniff walked two to help Mount Vernon earn the early lead.
Southwest Licking returned the favor in the top of the second, getting two walks and a single to load the bases with no outs. A fielder’s choice resulted in the first out, and Hess struck out the next batter. Just when it seemed Mount Vernon would escape the trouble, Hess walked in a run and then Caniff hit an RBI single back up the middle. An error on the next batter scored two more runs to tie the game at 4.
Mount Vernon answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Hess and Orr walked before Shellenbarger hit a two-RBI single to left for a 6-4 advantage.