MOUNT VERNON — Pitcher Alex Arck scattered three hits over six innings to lead the Mount Vernon Post 136 Knox County Royals over Ashley Post 518, 7-2, in the Mount Vernon American Legion Baseball Tournament at Mount Vernon High School on Thursday.
“Alex did a nice job on the mound,” said K.C. Royals coach Mike King. “He threw a real good ballgame. He’s a young freshman on the mound. He’s got a lot of potential and that’s actually the second good game in a row that he’s thrown. He threw a good game last Saturday, so he has given us a lot of good, quality innings. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.”
After giving up a hit and a run in the first inning, Arck was in command, keeping hitters off balance with his curve and changeup offsetting his fastball. He struck out four and walked four in the game.
“The first inning was a little rough,” said Arck, “The second through the fifth inning I did pretty good. I had my changeup working pretty well. I got two batters on that. I like throwing the curveball and it’s fun just watching the batters react to it.”
Centerfielder Nick Mazgay (1-for-4, two runs) socked a triple to left-centerfield to get things going for the Royals in the bottom of the first. J. D. Orr (2-for-3) followed with an RBI single to tie the game. Orr reached third on a Riley Swanson (2-for-2) single and scored to give the Royals a 2-1 lead when first baseman Tyler Berger grounded out to short.
Royals designated hitter Jayben Martin (1-for-3) led off the fourth with a double and scored, two batters later, when second baseman Duke Cunningham (1-for-3) smashed an RBI triple. Third baseman Nick Hoar followed with an RBI double to give the Royals a 5-1 advantage.
Defensively, the Royals pulled off a 4-6-3 double play with Cunningham grabbing a slow grounder off the bat of Ashley’s Kyle Whetro. He flipped it to Swanson (covering second), who fired it to first to get Whetro and end the mini-threat.
“We were a little bit better defensively,” said King, “We had one error in that first inning but, after that, we were pretty sharp. As long as we stay focused every day and stay ready for every pitch and every play, we are a pretty good defensive ball club.”
That made things easier for the Royals’ young pitcher.
“When we stick together as a team and play as a team, we can be very good,” said Arck, “We were more ready. We were determined to do better than yesterday. We went out there wanting to play good and we did.”