Season’s greetings

MOUNT UNION – There weren’t any birds chirping at Mount Union’s baseball field Wednesday but the Trojan bats were ringing as the Inter-County Conference favorite lit up Williamsburg for five runs in the first inning on its way to an 11-3 victory in the season opener.

The Blue Pirates came out of the gates swinging as battery mates Jordan Rebits and Jed Dishong knocked back-to-back singles. Cleanup hitter Sean McCauley drew a walk and a Tyler Shaw single plated Rebits for the game’s first run. Mount Union’s starting pitcher, Darrian Stapleton, settled in after surrendering the run and struck out the six and seven hitters to end the opening half of the first inning.

“Darrian did a good job,” Mount Union coach Nick Imperioli said. “He settled down and started to throw strikes.”

Following the shaky start, Stapleton allowed just three hits over the next four innings on his way to earning the victory for himself and the team. He effectively kept Williamsburg off balance, walking just one and fanning six Blue Pirates before handing the reins to left hander Nick Smith.

Mount Union matched Williamsburg’s first-inning effort and then some in the home half of the opening frame, plating five runs on six hits. Catcher Boomer Brown led off the bottom of the first with a single and Thad Wakefield followed suit with a base knock of his own. Shortstop Cole Boozel joined the party and smacked a double, tying the game at one. Trevon Walker made his way to the dish and pulled a ball to the right side, plating the go ahead run for the Trojans. The hit parade continued as Klayton Heffner, Brady Goodling and designated hitter Hunter Atherton each roped singles in the inning.

“I thought we had some clutch hits out of guys,” Imperioli said. “Brady drove in three runs and had a good day.”

Stapleton kept the Blue Pirates at bay for the next three innings – persevering through a couple defensive mistakes and striking out two.

“I thought on defense we weren’t very sharp,” Imperioli said. “We did make plays when we had to get out of jams.”

After going down in order in the second inning, the Trojan offense fired up the engine in the third. Walker drew a leadoff walk to get things started and Heffner blasted a double to set the stage for Goodling. The third baseman answered the call with a two-run single, giving the Trojans a 7-1 lead.

After shutting down Williamsburg in the top half of the fourth, the Trojans poured it on, plating three more runs in the home half to take a 10-1 lead. Mount Union had opportunities to go up by 10 in the fourth inning and end the game in the fifth, but the Blue Pirates would not surrender, inducing a fly out to end the inning with the potential game-ending run standing on third.

“I was a little disappointed,” Imperioli said. “I thought if we could get out of here in five innings, we could save some pitchers.”

With the 10-run rule looming, Williamsburg scrapped its way to within eight runs – initiated by an Adam Whelend leadoff double. Whelend would later score on a Sean McCauley single.

“You know Williamsburg has good players,” Imperioli said. “I give them credit – when they had to make a play to keep the game going, they did it.

“I’m glad to get the season off to a good start,” he added.

Smith threw two innings of relief, surrendering one run on four hits. Six Trojans collected RBIs on the day and four batters had multiple hits.

Mount Union is scheduled to play at Claysburg-Kimmel today, although school officials said Wednesday the Trojans may host the game due to field conditions.