Mt. Union breezes to 11-1 win at home
MOUNT UNION–After falling to Huntingdon in its first game of the season, Mount Union picked up its second straight win, mercy ruling Juniata Valley by a score of 11-1 after five innings in an Independent League baseball contest on Thursday in Mount Union.
Eight different Mount Union players scored at least one run while pitcher Josh Fleck allowed just one run on four hits.
Fleck, and the rest of his team, got off to a quick start. The left-hander allowed a single to the first batter, then picked him off first. He struck out two batters to end the inning, sending Mount Union to the plate, where it wasted no time getting started.
Kobe Hand smacked a long double into the left-center field gap allowing Ethan Carbaugh to score the game’s first run. Fleck knocked in Hand and Zach Baird, giving Mount Union a 3-0 lead, which proved to be all it needed.
Mount Union coach Marty Walter mentioned that getting Fleck the early lead helped him settle in and take control of the game.
“With a young pitcher on the mound, that’s what we needed,” Walter said. “Just get ahead, get some runs and he’ll take care of the rest. And he did.”
With Fleck rolling, Walter never considered taking out his starter, who seemingly gets better the deeper he gets into a game.
“Actually, the longer he goes, the better he throws,” Walter said. “He’s one of those kids that the longer he goes, the better he is. I was going to let him finish… (all seven innings) if that’s what it took.”
Mount Union added another run in the second as Dylan Renninger ripped a base hit up the middle, plating Bryce Danish, who found himself on base after a throwing error by the Juniata Valley’s third baseman.
Juniata Valley would score its lone run of the game in the third inning as TJ Wilson singled, bringing home Reid Edwards. David Woodrow was gunned down at the plate on Wilson’s hit by Jake Johnson, as Mount Union executed a solid relay.
However, Mount Union responded with two big innings. J.T. Knepper scored on a passed ball before Grayson McClain, Carbaugh and Hand all walked, bringing up Vince Lear with the bases loaded and a chance to do some damage.
The cleanup hitter delivered, rifling a single into right field, plating McClain and Carbaugh. Juniata Valley’s right fielder misplayed the hit and the ball rolled to the fence, bringing home Hand and moving Lear to third.
This clutch hitting is what Walter said his team lacked in their loss to Huntingdon. They had multiple opportunities to score, but failed to cash in.
“We left the bases loaded twice up there in Huntingdon,” Walter said. “We couldn’t even get a sacrifice fly… (today) we had key hits in key situations.”
With Mount Union winning 10-1, Carbaugh stepped up to the plate with runners in scoring position and a chance to win the game. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he pulled a line drive in between the third baseman and shortstop, scoring Renninger and winning the game for Mount Union via the 10-run mercy rule.
What made the difference for Mount Union on Wednesday was its patient hitting, putting the ball in play and playing solid defense. Mount Union drew 11 walks, forced two errors and was spotless in the field.
“That’s Mount Union baseball,” Walter said. “We’re gonna be more and more patient at the plate. This is just the third game that we’ve played, so we’re getting a lot better. We’ll improve each and every game.”
Mount Union 11, Juniata Valley 1
Juniata Valley 001 00–1-4-2
Mount Union 310 43–11-9-0
WP: Josh Fleck. LP: TJ Wilson. SO: JT Rodkey 2, Bryant Allison (JV); Fleck 6 (MU). BB: Wilson 3, Allison 3, Reid Edwards 3, Rodkey 2. (JV); Fleck 3 (MU). 2B: Ethan Carbaugh, Kobe Hand (MC). MH: Carbaugh 2-3. (MU); Wilson 2-2 (JV). RBI: Vince Lear 2, Fleck 2, Hand, Carbaugh, Ryan Plank, Dylan Renninger (MU); Wilson (JV).