MOUNT VERNON — In baseball, the entire game can sometimes ride on one simple play.
A heads-up move by Kenny Rucker led to a moment’s indecision by a Big Walnut fielder. It saved an out, put another runner on and allowed for a three-run home run by Billy Jackson. The dinger put Mount Vernon ahead, 5-3, which would hold up as the final score.
Rucker’s play came in the middle of a fifth-inning rally by the Yellow Jackets. Down 3-0, C.J. Atherton and Riley Swanson both reached base on singles. A balk by Big Walnut pitcher Dillon Walls put them on second and third, with one out.
Rucker knocked both runners in with a triple, cutting the deficit to one. Ben Hoar came to the plate and smashed the first pitch he saw toward third. Third baseman Tyler Beam scooped the ball and started to throw to first, but stopped when he saw Rucker take off for home. In truth, Rucker had no plans to run home, but the fake caused enough hesitation that Hoar made it to first without a throw.
“Field presence. It’s what experience can bring to the table,” said Mount Vernon head coach Matt Smith, who hugged Rucker following the play. “He was pumped up from hitting that big triple. He definitely got into the mind of the third baseman. That’s huge baseball awareness.”
The play allowed Billy Jackson to come to the plate with two outs. Jackson smashed a 2-1 fastball over the fence — his second homer this week.