By PAUL HINES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON - Waterloo turned a close baseball game into an 11-2 blowout against the Rams on Wednesday.
Mt. Vernon led 2-1 in the fifth inning but watched the Bulldogs score 10 times in the final two innings on a cold day.
"We played pretty well up until the sixth," Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. "They strung a lot of hits together with some walks mixed in between. So that's a recipe for trouble."
Brock Fulkerson started the game on the mound for the Rams and threw five and a third innings. He allowed three hits and finished with two strikeouts.
"(His) pitch count was getting up, and it was time to get him out of there," Holloway said. "It's still early in the season. But I thought he did a good job of keeping them off balance. (He) got a lot of ground balls."
Waterloo started its scoring barrage after Fulkerson left the game with the game tied at two. With Landon Thomas on the mound, the Bulldogs scored runs on a passed ball and wild pitch to go ahead 4-2.
Mt. Vernon cycled through four different pitchers trying to stop the Waterloo scoring but found no success. In the top of the seventh, Waterloo's Nathan Goodell knocked a two-run double to the right-center field gap. Zach Schaab added a two-run double to left to end the scoring surge.
"They don't have a whole lot of flaws at the plate," Holloway said. "So if you get behind, you're going to pay, and when we got behind we paid. Then you mix in a few free bases here and there you have all kinds of trouble."
Mt. Vernon took an early lead behind the bat of Jake Pike. The junior finished with a pair of hits and an RBI. In the bottom of the second, Pike ripped a double off the right field wall that scored Trevor Flota. After Waterloo tied the game at one in the top of the third, the Rams answered with another go-ahead score in the fourth.
Flota opened the inning with a walk, and Sawyer Harrison reached on an error. Pike loaded the bases when he reached on an infield hit with no outs. Flota scored when Matthew Williams grounded into a double play. Mt. Vernon maintained its lead with solid defense in the fifth. Waterloo's Jeremy Rettig knocked a triple to open the inning. Fulkerson fanned the next hitter before Sawyer Harrison cut down Rettig at the plate after fielding a grounder. The play temporarily preserved Mt. Vernon's 2-1 edge.
"We made some nice plays," Holloway said. "Our defense, I was really pleased through five (innings). Sawyer's play was huge with the infield in."
Mt. Vernon is 3-1 this season and travels to Triad on Friday.