By PAUL HINES
---- — HERRIN – Mt. Vernon wasted little time putting its opening round regional opponent away Wednesday.
The Rams lashed Herrin 12-1 in five innings to advance to Saturday's title game.“We pitched well, and we really swung the bats well today,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “If we can keep swinging it, our pitcher is going to give us a good shot.”Landon Thomas had two hits and three RBI. Sawyer Harrison added two hits and two RBI.The game was close until the Rams ripped the game wide open with a combined 11 runs in the third and fourth innings.Already up 1-0, Mt. Vernon put together three hits and four runs in the fourth to pad its advantage.Pinch runner Zack Jines scored on an error. Clayton Reeves, Harrison and Hayden Poninski all drove in runs as the Rams went up 5-0.“I felt like we got in some good hitters counts today and really put the barrel on some balls, especially in that third and fourth inning,” Holloway said. “If we can keep swinging like that with our pitchers throwing the way they have we feel like we have a good shot.”Brock Fulkerson cruised through his pitching outing. The junior hurled all five innings and controlled the Herrin hitters.He finished with five strikeouts and one walk. Herrin had five hits against the Rams pitcher.“Brock pitched today like he has all year,” Holloway said. “He located, he let the hitters get themselves out. He got some strikeouts when he needed it.”The Rams exploded in the fourth and knocked Herrin starter Aaron Cheatham out of the game.Trevor Flota, Matthew Williams and Harrison all had RBI singles to push the edge to 8-0.Landon Thomas stepped to the plate in the same inning with the bases jammed and put the Rams up 9-0.Thomas lofted a fly ball into the right-center field gap. The ball dropped, clearing the bases and making the score 12-0.Mt. Vernon faces the winner of the Centralia-Carbondale matchup at 11 a.m.“We're familiar with both teams,” Holloway said. “We're going to have to continue to play the way we did today and execute. It's never easy this time of year.”