MT. VERNON —
Gunner Lundius' first varsity hit gave the Rams a win Wednesday against Herrin.
Mt. Vernon rallied for a 9-8 victory over the Tigers after trailing 8-3 earlier in the matchup.
“It was a game we desperately needed to win,” Mt Vernon baseball coach Tim Holloway said.
Mt. Vernon scored five times in the sixth to tie the game at 8-8. In the seventh, Braden Smith started the frame with a leadoff walk for Mt. Vernon. He moved to second after a sacrifice bunt from Darick Hayes. Lundius, a sophomore, lined a single over the head of the Herrin centerfielder, allowing Smith to race home for the winning run. Rams players piled out of the dugout and raced down the first-base line to celebrate the victory with Lundius. It was his first varsity appearance and hit. He also had three walks in the game.
“Our guys did what they needed to do,” Holloway said. “I'm proud of their comeback. We've been looking for that. We haven't had many of those, and that is a step in the right direction.”
Mt. Vernon led 3-1 after four innings before Herrin exploded for seven scores in the fifth. The inning started with a close call at first base. Jake Pike caught a throw on an infield grounder. He dropped the ball, and the umpire ruled the Herrin runner Nick Ryker safe. Three Mt. Vernon pitchers would also walk a total of six batters in the inning. The final tally of the inning for Herrin came on a Mt. Vernon error, making the score 8-3.
“Bad things are going to happen in this game, and you have to go to the next pitch,” Holloway said. “You have to forget it and hopefully we can do a better job with that.”
The Rams struck back in the sixth. This time it was Herrin hurlers that struggled to throw strikes. Mt. Vernon took a trio of free passes in the inning. Zach Brookman and Jake Pike both walked with the bases loaded. Blake Jones capped the rally with a game tying two-run single that evened the game at 8-8.
Hayes, who was pitching in relief, shut down Herrin in the top of the seventh setting the stage for the dramatic final half inning.
“The positive today of course is our ability to come back from a pretty large deficit on our home field and show some toughness and heart there,” Holloway said.
Mt. Vernon is 13-11-1 this season and faces Marion today.