MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon baseball team got a swift reminder Monday why Big Walnut is at the top of the Ohio Capital Conference.
The Yellow Jackets managed just three hits as the Eagles rolled to a 9-2 victory at Yellow Jacket Field.
“That’s a solid Big Walnut team; very well coached; they played great defense,” said Mount Vernon coach Matt Smith. “We hit into several double plays tonight. That’s a product of two things, we hit the ball hard and they played good defense. They are really strong up the middle.”
The double play took Mount Vernon out of any scoring chances in the first two innings. The Jackets (11-11 overall, 5-7 OCC) got runners on in both innings, but were snuffed out by the twin killings.
MV starting pitcher Jayben Martin was able to work out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning, but watched as the Eagles (17-4, 10-2) were able to get the key hits needed in the next four innings. The Eagles scored twice in the second and fourth innings, added three more in the third and one in the fourth to put the game out of reach. Martin was able to keep the damage to a minimum with some big strike outs.
“I thought Jayben Martin settled down and pitched a pretty nice game after the first couple of innings,” said Smith. “He really settled in and started to get his off-speed over. We expect big things from him.”
Mount Vernon finally broke through in the fifth inning. Ryan Goetzman smacked a one-out single and moved up a base when Brandon Dobbs smoked one past the third baseman. A wild pitch moved both runners up and Eric Ashbrook delivered a two-run single. But, Ashbrook was thrown out at second trying to move up on the throw home and the threat ended as quickly as it began.
Big Walnut pitcher Aaron Gase settled down after that and retired the Jackets without much of a threat in the final two innings. The Eagle hurler struck out four in the game, including all three outs in the seventh inning.
“That young man, (Aaron) Gase did a great job getting his off-speed stuff over for strikes. That means you have to fight to hit that off-speed stuff. He did a real nice job,” Smith said.
Jeremy Bok led the Eagles with a double and two singles, while lead-off hitter Grant Beam had three singles.
The Jackets will look to bounce back today when they play host to Highland at 5 p.m. On Wednesday, they will return to OCC action at home against New Albany.
“We’re focusing on playing our best ball this last week and getting ready for tournament. We still have high expectations of ourselves. We still feel like we’re a good team,” Smith said.
NOTES: Smith said seniors Billy Jackson and Shawn Maxwell are no longer on the team. ... The Jackets will open tournament play next Monday at home against Logan.