MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets and the Highland Scots are going in opposite directions.
Both teams want to play their best ball at tournament time. The Scots appear to be heading toward a peak. The Jackets do not.
That was evident on Tuesday when, despite excellent pitching by freshman Alex Arck, Mount Vernon fell at home to Highland, 6-2, on Senior Night to fall below .500 for the third time this season.
Arck, making his debut on the mount for the Yellow Jackets (11-12), recovered from a shaky first inning and kept his team in the game. The Scots (14-7) had Josh Gahm on the mound. What occurred was a classic pitchers’ duel that stayed close until the final innings.
After two runs came across following two Mount Vernon errors, Arck kept his composure. He allowed just four base runners over the ensuing four innings. He struck out five in that time, including striking out the side in the fourth inning.
“To ask a ninth-grader to come in and start a varsity game on Senior Night, I thought he did a tremendous job,” said Mount Vernon head coach Matt Smith. “He threw a lot of strikes. We needed to make a few more plays behind him.”
Arck had some help in the third when, with runners on first and second, he forced Dalton Stambaugh to ground back to the mound for a rare 1-5-3 double play.
Gahm, meantime, scattered three hits over six innings of work, allowing two runs. The first run came in the second inning, when Brandon Dobbs scored on a throwing error during a double play attempt. The second run came in the fourth, when Eric Ashbrook scored all the way from first on a Steve Shannon double.
“We’re just not stringing together enough good at-bats,” said Smith. “In high school baseball in 2012, you’re not getting a lot of extra base hits, so you have to string together a bunch of hits. We haven’t done that the last couple of games.”
The Scots took the lead for good in the fifth when Alec Harris singled then scored on a Cade Randolph RBI hit, making the score 3-2.