By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
Chandler Ream foiled the Rams offense all game Tuesday.
Ream threw a one-hitter against Mt. Vernon, and Marion emerged with a 1-0 win in both teams South Seven Conference opener.
“To have pitched that well and played that good defensively and come up with a loss is very disappointing,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said.
Ream was also the difference at the plate. He hit a first inning solo home run into the right field wind for the only score in a game that lasted less than 90 minutes.
“He hit it pretty good, but there was a gale blowing out in the first inning,” Marion coach Marty Manfredo said. “It got up in the jet stream.”
Mt. Vernon batters grounded balls back to Ream 10 times in the game. Each time the Marion hurler fielded the ball cleanly and fired to first base.
“I think their pitcher had a lot of movement and had some sink,” Holloway said. “It looked like we were just topping the ball and just had a hard time squaring the ball up. We had games where we swung the bat well and unfortunately today wasn't one of them.”
The home run was Tyler Morgan's only blemish on the mound for Mt. Vernon. The senior held Marion to three hits. After the opening inning homer, Marion didn't move a runner past first base against Morgan and the Rams defense. Morgan finished with six strikeouts and just one walk.
Twice, the Rams put runners in scoring position. The first time came in the second inning. Blake Jones drew a walk and moved to third on an error. Darick Hayes reached on the Marion miscue and stole second. The steal put runners on second and third with two outs. Zach Brookman couldn't come up with the clutch hit and ended the inning with a ground out.
Mt. Vernon also threatened in the final inning. Jake Pike used his speed to beat out an infield single for the Rams lone hit. He moved to second after Tyler Morgan's sacrifice and stood at third after a fielder's choice. Blake Jones stood at the plate, looking to knot the game, but grounded back to Ream for the final out.
The defeat marked a rare conference loss for the Rams. Mt. Vernon has won the last four conference crowns and lost just two times during that span.
Mt. Vernon is 5-6-1 this season and 0-1 in South Seven Conference action. The Rams travel to West Frankfort today. Marion improved to 5-3.