By Steve Joos.
Summer baseball is mainly for developmental purposes, as the high school teams work on sharpening their skills for the future, which is one reason why the coaches of the Mount Vernon Junior American Legion squad and North Posey summer baseball team were looking for something other than just wins or losses when the two teams met for a home-and-home series last week.
“We’re going up against the Pates and the Newburghs, and that’s a combination of three or four high schools,” Mount Vernon coach Kevin Krizan said. “Our main goal is not so much wins and losses, our goal is to get better and develop the players for next year and so I think we’re doing that.”
There was agreement from the other end of the county.
“We don’t play a lot of games in the summertime,” North Posey coach Kevin Smith added. “The kids have jobs and they have played hard and put so much effort into the season. They’ve also got basketball, football and all kinds of other extracurricular activities going on, so we don’t try and play a whole lot of games.”
Mount Vernon Junior took the first meeting between the two teams on Wednesday, plating three runs in the bottom of the sixth and then holding on for a 5-4 victory at home and then traveled to Poseyville Friday and dropped a 7-5 decision.
“They played really hard,” Krizan said after his team lost to North Posey Friday night. “They were going up against some older kids and they battled, they competed and I’m happy with that.”
Smith felt that his team had a good approach at the plate, never striking out in 34 plate appearances.
“We put the ball in play and that made a big difference,” Smith said. “I liked the fact that we were aggressive at the plate and I thought our pitching was good.”
The approach at the plate was a plus against a Mount Vernon team that Smith felt was a good squad that was also aggressive at the plate.
“Anytime you’re putting the ball into play at the plate, you’re gaining confidence,” Smith said. “If you have a little slip up in the field or on the mound, you’re confident that you can get back to the plate and make up for it.”
North Posey played with more confidence and aggressiveness, the coach said, adding that he saw a little more bounce in their step.
Mount Vernon scored two runs in the first two innings, but they also left runners in scoring position, plating just one run while leaving the sack juiced in the top of the first inning. That lack of clutch hitting was one thing the team was going to have to work on, Krizan said.
More offense will help make the pitching and defense look good, he added.
“We played well defensively both nights,” he said. “We probably got a little better pitching on Wednesday and that was probably the difference between the two games. We competed both tonight and on Wednesday.”
Three runs in the bottom of the first inning put North Posey in front 4-2, but Mount Vernon tied the contest in the top of the fifth. North Posey pulled away, nonetheless, with a single run in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Wes Harness led off the contest with a double and scored the first run of the night for North Posey, then tying the game at 1-1. Alec Werry doubled, while Jake Bender tripled, and Ryan Gish put the ball in play despite going hitless. The bottom of the order, Austin Little, Joey Deurling and Zach Carl, each did a good job of getting on base, as did Mike Bender.
“Even the outs, they weren’t strikeouts,” Smith said. “In baseball, if you strike out, you can’t score. We were fighting off some good pitches, we were going after the pitches we wanted and that was the key tonight.”
For Mount Vernon, Brandon Merrick and Austin Krizan each doubled, with Merrick driving in a run with his two-bagger. J.T. Silvers added an RBI single.
John Tice singled home Logan Brown in the bottom of the sixth Wednesday night to give Mount Vernon the win as the Junior Legion battled back from a 4-2 deficit and this time, came out victorious.
Krizan feels that his team is competing despite a sub-.500 record (heading into Monday’s doubleheader with Pate), adding that improvement is the main goal and Mount Vernon seems to be doing that.
North Posey was more aggressive and more confident at the plate Friday, as incoming seniors Harness, Werry, Jake Bender and Kyle Voegel set the tone for Friday’s game, according to Smith.
“Anytime your seniors set that tone, it rubs off on your underclassmen,” Smith added.
With six seniors gone from this year’s team, the North Posey coaches are looking at a number of different players in different positions, while looking at newcomers like Thomas Steagall, who will be coming over from New Harmony this fall.
Smith is pleased with the team’s dedication and work ethic, as well as their dedication to the game and he’s tickled to death to have them on the field, regardless of wins and losses during the summer.
North Posey is now 3-1 in a limited, 10-game schedule. The team is off until June 26, when they have a doubleheader against Gibson Southern,
North Posey’s games at Forest Park set for Saturday were cancelled due to a lack of players for both teams.
By Steve Joos.
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