By Steve Joos.
A close win and a pair of losses at the hands of better teams.
The Mount Vernon American Legion baseball team had just one of those weeks.
After beating Fairfield 9-7 in the first game of the week, Mount Vernon ran into some rough sledding against two of the area’s better Legion squads, falling 7-2 at Princeton Thursday night after dropping a 12-2 decision in eight innings under the 10-run rule to visiting Newburgh Tuesday.
Princeton Post 25’s “North Posey Connection” played a key role as the Gibson County squad won its 18th game of the season Thursday night.
The Owen Dunn Post Five squad didn’t so much run into a better team when Kamperman Post 44 invaded Mount Vernon Tuesday; the other team just played well, Coach Dan McNamara explained.
“I don’t think they’re (Newburgh) a better team,” McNamara said. “They played better, that’s for sure. We were right in the game at 5-2 and gave them a couple of runs. A passed ball here, a bad throw there, we let a ground ball get through. It seems like to me that we got down after that.”
Mount Vernon hit Newburgh’s starter early in the game, but they struggled when Kamperman started going to the bullpen.
Despite getting slapped for four runs in the top of the fourth inning, McNamara thought that his team was still in the game and they showed it by scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth frames, but Newburgh came back in the seventh and eighth to end the contest under the 10-run rule with four runs in the seventh and another three in the eighth.
“I don’t understand that,” McNamara said. “I was kind of disappointed in our team after that. We didn’t swing the bat; we weren’t aggressive. Their pitchers were responsible for some of that, but we didn’t swing the bats well.”
Post Five had trouble with Newburgh’s starter, but they were able to get to him for a few hits early in the game. But every time Mount Vernon seemed to get something going, Newburgh changed pitchers.
As for Mount Vernon, its pitchers weren’t always getting the calls they felt that they should have, McNamara explained.
“We had a couple borderline pitches that our pitchers thought were strikes,” the coach said. “That gave them an extra swing and they drive the ball, or give them an extra swing and they loop one in. It makes for a long inning when you keep running the ball in and they’re getting extra outs.”
Ross Canada pitched a good game despite the struggles, McNamara added.
At Princeton, Hank Dausmann was sailing along until North Posey’s Colton Martin led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a shot that cleared the 350-sign in left center at Gil Hodges Field.
Ryan Lasley doubled to center and scored on a wild pitch after another Viking, Jared Meliff, grounded out, sending him to third.
Former Viking Nick Scheller contributed to the Princeton effort three different ways. On the mound he fanned four batters after Drake McNamara belted a solo home run in the top of the eighth inning for Mount Vernon’s second run of the night, nailing down the win.
At third base, he gunned down Trevor Veeck and Bryce Newman with a pair of backhanded stops and tough throws, one while sprawling to his right and another with the Indiana University freshman on his knees.
Then at the plate, Scheller collected three hits, including a double, triple and two-run singles that highlighted Princeton’s four-run seventh inning, which broke the game open at 7-1.
In addition to McNamara, J.T. Silvers had two hits for Owen Dunn Post Five.
Tuesday’s loss snapped a three-game winning streak which included the win at Fairfield.
McNamara said that Mount Vernon didn’t play its best against Fairfield, but Owen Dunn had more hitting and took a six-run lead before the team once again became lackadaisical at the plate, allowing the Illinoisans to get back into the game.
Trevor Veeck started the game for Post Five and had enough to pull out the contest.
There was a 90-minute delay due to heavy lightning in the area at Fairfield.