MOUNT VERNON — In a rivalry, teams let it all hang out.
The Yellow Jackets put arguably their best pitcher on the mound against Delaware Hayes’ best pitcher. The result was a pitcher’s duel to make baseball purists proud.
Ultimately, Mount Vernon prevailed, 3-1, when they finally woke up their bats and managed to get runners in.
The Jackets put Ben Hoar on the mound on Thursday. Coming off one of his best performances last week, Hoar would nearly match it.
At first, the ace fell victim to a bad bounce. Actually, it was shortstop Riley Swanson that was the real victim, when a ground ball off the bat of Jacob Bosiokovic took a bad hop on the dirt and struck him in the eye.
Swanson stayed in the game, but he developed a shiner and had to keep ice on it throughout the game.
The play allowed Hayes to get its first two batters on base. Later, with one out, Alex Rafeld smacked a sacrifice fly to right that allowed the lead runner to score.
Hoar did not allow himself to be shaken by the unearned run. He went on to strike out five batters in the first three innings. For the rest of the game, he didn’t allow a runner past second. By game’s end, Hoar had thrown 101 pitches, 68 of them for strikes.
“Usually, when I pitch, the first few innings are good, and by the fourth and fifth innings, I’m throwing balls,” Hoar said. “(But) I know when we get the lead (late), I know that, if I can finish it out, it becomes a great feeling to be out there in the seventh.”
“It’s lucky for us that we have big No. 5 on the mound,” said Mount Vernon head coach Matt Smith, referring to Hoar. “He pitched a great game. If it weren’t for a couple of bounces in the first inning, he doesn’t give up any runs. He’s the No. 1 that we knew that he was.”
For Hayes, Tyler Miller was just as masterful. He didn’t allow a single baserunner until the fourth, when he struck Kenny Rucker in the arm with a pitch. The miscue shook Miller briefly, as the next batter, Ethan Abell, was able to get a 3-0 count before knocking Mount Vernon’s first single through the infield.
Miller got out of the bind in the fourth thanks to a double play. He continued to pitch well through the fifth, maintaining Hayes’ slim 1-0 lead.