MOUNT VERNON — After two weather cancellations, the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets baseball team finally hit the diamond once again, anxious to get rid of the nasty taste of that first loss.
This time around, the Jackets were back to their old selves. They were hitting, they were fielding and they were winning.
The Jackets beat Ontario, 8-4, on a muddy field that made the frigid blowing wind feel even colder.
Bouncing balls became an issue throughout the game. Both sides misplayed grounders that would have been easy under ordinary conditions. At least four batters can credit a hit to the odd bounces on the dirt.
Offensively, Riley Swanson and Kory Shackle stepped up for Mount Vernon. Swanson doubled in each of his first two at-bats, and singled in the fifth. Shackle also managed three hits, including a bunt single in the fifth with two men on that caught the Warriors napping.
“That’s what we need from our top guys,” Mount Vernon head coach Matt Smith said. “Riley’s got some varsity experience. It felt good to see him lead us off with a double. All through the lineup, one through nine, they all hit solidly, and put the ball in play.”
Shawn Maxwell, playing first base, added two hits and scored twice. Billy Jackson, Shackle, Nate Shuman and Eric Ashbrook all drove in runs for the Jackets, with Swanson driving in two.
“Hitting’s contagious,” Smith said. “Once the lead-off guy does it, others follow.”
Defensively, it was refreshing for the fans to notice that the team was not as sloppy as the field this time around.
“We played really solid defense today,” Smith said. “Overall, this effort was 100 times better than Tuesday. We played with a lot more energy. We were a lot more into the game.”
Ben Hoar took the mound for the first time since 2010, and looked like he hadn’t missed a step. Hoar scattered six hits over five innings, striking out five and walking two. He didn’t allow a run until the fourth inning, which ended in a crazy fashion.
Trailing by the score of 4-0, Ontario managed to drive one run home, then have runners at the corners with one out. Hoar got Ryan Timmer to strike out on three pitches. Then A.J. Wood came up. On the first pitch, the runner (Wyatt Clemons) took off for second. The throw would have been in time, but Swanson had to jump to catch it. Not realizing he could have been safe, Clemons turned around and headed back to first. The ensuing rundown didn’t last long, but long enough for the Warriors. By the time Maxwell made the tag, the runner on third had scored.
“Ben did what we want our number one to do, and that’s throw a lot of strikes,” Smith said. “It helps that they hit it where we wanted it a few times.”