BY PAUL HINES
Tyler Ellis took a tough-luck loss in Saturday's 3A third-place game against Grayslake Central.
Grayslake had just two hits against Ellis but both came in the sixth inning and produced the only run of the game.
“Tyler deserved better, but we gave ourselves every chance defensively to win the game,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “It's a shame that he had to come out with the loss.”
Central's pitcher Kevin Peloza shut down Mt. Vernon in the final inning for the 1-0 win.
“We did hit some balls hard, but they made every play,” Holloway said.
Ellis and Peloza dominated the game on the mound for their respective teams, both teams nicknamed the Rams, with the team's offenses struggling to generate chances until the sixth.
“They were able to get a couple little hits, and they were able to move their runner effectively,” Ellis said. That's all it took. They just needed that one run, and they got it.”
Ellis pitched a pair of perfect innings to start the game before hitting a batter in the third. Ellis' efficiency led to him throwing just 61 pitches. The game finished in 64 minutes.
“I just felt like I had a lot of pressure on me since it is our last game,” Ellis said. “There's still no runs on the board (in the fifth). I just had to keep doing my best and hoping they would get hits and runs for me.”
Mt. Vernon finished with four hit but never moved a runner into scoring position.
Jake Pike led off the game with single. Peloza repeatedly threw over to first base, trying to keep him close. Eventually, Pike broke for second. Peloza stepped off the mound, and Pike was gunned down at second.
Colten Meador, Clayton Reeves added singles. Pike knocked another single in the sixth. But each time they never advanced to second.
“We haven't swung it well in the postseason, but we've kept coming up with that clutch hit throughout to get here,” Holloway said. “And we just didn't get it this weekend.”
Mt. Vernon's defense behind Ellis was solid throughout the game, including a diving catch in left field from Clayton Reeves that erased an extra-base hit.
Mt. Vernon finished the season 31-10-1. The team was presented with the four-place trophy after the game and each player received a medal.
“Our guys competed hard. They represent our school and community well,” Holloway said. “Unfortunately we couldn't scratch a few runs across.”
The game marked the final one for nine seniors on the roster.
“I told them I appreciate everything they've done,” Holloway said. “A lot of the reason why we're here is our senior leadership. These guys have done a great job.”