By Steve Joos.
One run on nine hits in 16 innings. That is enough to sum up what happened to the Mount Vernon American Legion baseball team in Friday’s Sectional action. It was a long day and a very short postseason for Post Five, especially at the plate.
One run and nine hits were all the offense Owen Dunn Post Five could manage in two games at the Harrison High School baseball field, as they were eliminated from Sectional play, dropping the first game to Newburgh 17-0 in seven innings and then falling to Pate 5-1 in the consolation bracket.
The game was pushed back a night after heavy thunderstorms tolled through Evansville Thursday, forcing the game’s suspension after the top of the third.
“Both teams we played, showed a little bit of respect,” Coach Danny McNamara said. “Newburgh threw their best pitcher at first and came back today with (Sam Coudret) and he’s pretty tough, too. Pate’s got three good pitchers and A.J. Bruner’s about their best, He’s a Division I pitcher next year and he was on his game tonight. We’re usually a pretty good hitting team, but they shut the door on us tonight. We couldn’t string together any hits.”
After Newburgh erupted for seven runs in the third inning and they piled up tallies in all but two frames enroute to their rampage over Mount Vernon and then Pate burned Post Five for another four early in the second game, Try Paris settled down a blanked the Evansville school over the course of his six inning stint
“Troy pitched pretty well,” McNamara said. “He had one bad inning where we didn’t make the plays and they strung some hits together and before you knew it, they had four runs. I hate to see that, because Troy pitched a good game. On the other hand, when we get some base runners on, but we couldn’t get the hit when we needed it, had a base running error here and there which took us out of an inning, but we just needed something to give us a jump start and we didn’t get it tonight.”
Newburgh had plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning when lightning and then heavy rains hit the Evansville area, forcing everyone off the field Thursday night.
Starting Friday in that hole may have put a damper on the team’s approach to the game as well, McNamara said, adding that the way Newburgh’s pitchers were throwing strikes didn’t help matters. Newburgh promptly dug an even deeper hole when play resumed, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the third to break things open.
Doubles by Sam Griggs and Daniel Sander were the big blows as Newburgh stretched the lead to 11-0 and chased Post Five starter Ross Canada.
Griggs then belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning made the score 13-0 before another four tallies in the fifth closed out the scoring.
In the nightcap, a walk, single, double wild pitch and infield hit enabled Pate to score three runs in the top of the third inning to open a 1-0 game, while Bruner held Post Five at bay for another seven and two-thirds frame before Mount Vernon finally got on the scoreboard.
A single by River VanZant, a walk to Paris and a two-out single by Hank Dausmann led to Mount Vernon’s only run of the night.
Paris was responsible for two of Owen Dunn’s three hits in the opener, one of which was a double.
“Well, I hope there’s a good core group coming back for the high school next year,” McNamara said. “We’ve played some good competition. In the first game, there were five different high school kids on their team, while on (Pate) and some of them may have been in college, so it was good competition.”
The Legion team closed out its season with an 11-9 record on a long Friday night.
And the outcome made it even longer.
Post Five closed out its regular season on a winning note last week, rallying from a 7-3 deficit to beat visiting Funkhouser 8-7.
“We have a lot of confidence,” McNamara said. “We feel that this (Funkhouser) is a team that we cab be competitive with. We got behind really, but this team will never quit. We won a lot of games through the years in the last inning and next to last inning. If we stay close, we’ve got a chance to win.”
Two walks, a wild pitch and a ground out capped the rally and sent Post Five into the post season on a high note.
Logan Brown and Bryce Newman each walked to open the bottom of the eighth inning. Brown was cut down truing to steal third, but Newman moved up and then took third on a wild pitch before crossing the plate on a ground out by VanZant.
After scoring the go-ahead run, Newman took the mound and walked the leadoff man in the top of the ninth, but then struck out the side to clinch the win for Mount Vernon.
Paris returned after a stint with an Evansville-based raveling team and helped out immediately with two hits, including a game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Seven other players had one hit, while McNamara sent six pitchers to the mound in order to save a few arms ahead of the Sectional.
A triple by Collin Varner and a single by Craig Beeson enabled Mount Vernon to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the second inning, but Funkhouser responded with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and built the 7-3 advantage.
“We tired to give it away,” McNamara said. “We had a few plays where we didn’t play too well (Post Five committed three errors in the contest). But we hung in and stayed close. We had a chance to win at the end, which is all you can ask.”
The chipping away started in the bottom of the sixth, with Jevin Redman led off with a triple and came in on a double by Veeck, who scored on a single by Brown.
In the seventh, led things off with a single and came around on Paris’ shot over the center field fence.