MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon 12-year-old All-Stars leftfielder Kaden Daniels smacked a grand slam to highlight a nine-run first inning. Mount Vernon went on to cruise past North Fork, 14-4, in Friday evening’s District 5 tournament game.
“This is just a big game,” said Mount Vernon coach Steve Franko. “We really haven’t played together as a team this year. We’ve been waiting to get games in. There were no preseason tournaments, like we usually play.”
The game, which was ended by the run rule in the fifth inning, started out quite differently. North Fork jumped on Mount Vernon starting pitcher Ashton Spurgeon for a pair of runs in the top of the first. Shortstop Casey Daubenmire slugged a homer over the center field wall with one out and teammate Charlie Spires on first. Daubenmire’s shot gave North Fork its only lead of the game.
“We threw a lot of pitches in this game,” said Franko. “We went through four pitchers.”
Mount Vernon went right to work in the first inning, sending 13 batters to the plate. Shortstop Dustin Hess, first baseman Nate Orr and third baseman Jeffrey Rucker all reached to start off the home-half of the first. All three would score to give Mount Vernon the lead.
Rucker scored on an RBI single by Mount Vernon centerfielder Marcus Shellenberger, who moved around to third when Springer reached on a fielder’s choice. North Fork starter Bryce Collins walked Mount Vernon catcher Gerrit Franko to load the bases for Daniels’ big blast. Hess and Rucker added additional RBIs to make it a 9-2 game.
“They got a couple of walks,” said North Fork coach Steve Cummings. “We got a fastball up and (Daniels) put it over the fence out there. They’re a good-hitting team.”
“I’m very happy with the way we hit the ball,” said Franko. “We ran the bases hard. Then there was Kaden Daniels. What can you say? Great kid and a great at bat. I was thrilled for him. He came in (to pitch in relief) and the first inning he threw was tremendous. Jeffrey Rucker has been a great hitter all year, hitting in our three-hole.”
Spires and Daubenmire scored again in the third for North Fork. Mount Vernon, however, didn’t rest throughout the game. Rucker walked and scored on a passed ball in the third to make it 11-4. Daniels singled in the fourth and was chased all the way home by Mount Vernon’s Tyler Bills, who doubled and tried to score on an error but was tagged out at the plate. Mount Vernon would go on to rack up 14 hits, while holding North Fork to four.
Despite a dreadful first inning, North Fork stood their ground.