NEW ALBANY — With its high-powered offense struggling, nobody could have blamed the Mount Vernon 12-year-old all-star team from folding up the tent Tuesday.
The future Yellow Jackets were shut out by Cambridge in the first game of the championship of the District 5 Little League tournament and were barely showing any signs of life in the second.
But, Mount Vernon dug deep, getting a small spark in the fifth inning of Game 2. That spark turned into an inferno as the Jackets scored eight times in the inning and went to claim the District 5 title with a 10-8 victory over Cambridge.
“This was all about the team. Somebody came up big; nobody quit,” said Mount Vernon All-Star coach Steve Franko. “After their second home run, we could have packed it in and been run-ruled. But, we held it together and picked up some big runs.
“We finally got it going. We had 10 innings where we basically had not scored. But, everybody kept going after it; we had a couple of things go through and the momentum changed.”
Mount Vernon will now play Boardman, the District 2 winner, in the state tournament on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Hamilton.
Cambridge pitcher Austin McKee had shut down Mount Vernon in the first game Tuesday, rolling to a 7-0 victory and forcing a second game.
In the second game, Mason Long was doing pretty much the same thing, holding MV in check.
The Jackets were at least able to squeeze out a few hits against Long, but had left five runners in scoring position in the first four innings.
Nate Orr, who had four singles in Game 2, provided the initial spark for the Jackets. He singled and moved up on walks to Drew Hedrick and Ashton Spurgeon. The Squatches changed pitchers (Jacob Lyons) and the MV spark turned hot quickly. Gerrit Franko was hit by a pitch and Kaden Daniels blasted a sharp triple up the middle to plate all three runners. Cambridge went to another pitcher, Koby Berger, but he wasn’t able to silence the MV bats either.
MV got singles from Dustin Hess, Orr, Marcus Shellenbarger and Spurgeon, as well as walks by Jeffrey Rucker and Hedrick, to score eight times in the inning.