MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon 12U All-Stars overcame an early lead from Guernsey County All-Stars on Wednesday under the Phillips Park lights. The Jackets ended up turning a 5-0 trail into a 11-6 victory in the District 5 Little League tournament.
“I thought they were a little nervous to start the game,” said Mount Vernon head coach Corey Firebaugh on his players’ start. “We just kept saying it’s a long game, just stick with the plan.”
In the top of the first Guernsey County came ready with the bats. With two outs Nick Norman hit a double that supplied two RBIs for Guernsey, highlighting their 3-0 lead out of the gates.
Mount Vernon struggled early on and went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the first.
In the top of the second the Jacket defense was able to recooperate and gain some defensive traction. Wes Neighbarger on the mound for the Jackets struck out two and Payton Hempfield made an acrobatic play on a ball from second to hold Guernsey to zero runs on the inning.
The Jackets however continued to struggle at the plate as Guernsey County pitcher Kade Winnett threw two strikeouts of his own, stiffling Mount Vernon’s offense to zero runs and zero hits.
In the top of the third, Neighbarger was relieved of his pitching duties with one out by Zac Clow. Clow finished off the inning by striking out two batters, but not before Guernsey added an additional two runs to the board as two runners scored when Landon Khune’ reached on an error.
By the third, Ethan Yost was the first Jacket to get a hit off Winnett. Later in the inning Clow put Mount Vernon on the scoreboard with an RBI single, which he advanced to second base on the outfield throw to homeplate. Neighbarger followed his teammate’s lead by blasting a double into the outfield that scored two more runs for the Jackets. Caden Theibert topped off the inning with a double that scored an additional runner that put Mount Vernon back in the ball game, trailing Guernsey 5-4.
Mount Vernon fed off its offensive success in the field for the top of the fourth. Only one Guernsey County player reached base and the Jackets did not give up any runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Jackets did not fabricate any runs, but their defense remained solid in the top of the fifth inning. Mount Vernon held Guernsey County to a three-up, three down and made their next appearance to the plate a business trip.
In the bottom of the fifth Clow started out with a solid single, teammates Neighbarger and Theibert followed his lead immediately. Hayden Higgins capitalized his trip to the plate with the bases loaded and cracked a single for an RBI. Ethan Yost hit a sacrifice fly ball deep into right center to haul in a Jacket runner and Mason Holt hit an RBI single that scored Higgins. Cameron Firebaugh added his fair share of heat to the rally with a RBI single of his own. Clow, who started the inning, singled again, this time bringing Holt across home plate. Neighbarger was the last to add to the magnificent rally with a deep centerfield shot that scored Firebaugh. Moving into the top of the sixth inning the Jackets lead Guernsey County 11-5.
Guernsey County, however, was not going to fold, putting the ball in played proved worthy enough to score a run and even causing a pitching change for the Jackets with two outs on the inning. Ethan Yost was called to the mound for the Jackets, and with a calm approach he struck out the final Guernsey batter, securing his team’s 11-6 win.
Mount Vernon is now set to play Cambridge today at Phillips Park at 6 p.m. Clow and Neighbarger will not be able to throw until Saturday due to Little League rules. As for Guernsey County they will face the loser of the Mount Vernon and Cambridge game on Friday at Phillips Park at 6 p.m. They will be without pitcher Winnett due to pitch count restrictions.