HERRIN — Tyler Ellis didn’t need much offense in Saturday’s regional title game against Centralia.
The Mt. Vernon hurler attacked the Centralia batters all game. In the end, the Orphans managed just three hits against Ellis as Mt. Vernon claimed its third regional crown in four years. Mt. Vernon won the game 2-0.
“With Tyler locked in today, it was going to be tough on them to score,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “He had a good fastball with velocity and movement. He had a good, sharp breaking ball and didn’t need much else.”
Ellis pitched a complete game, and the Orphans never moved a runner into scoring position against the Rams. Ellis didn’t allow a base runner in the final three innings. He ended with seven strikeouts.
“I didn’t worry about pitching around any kids,” Ellis said. “I just tried to go straight at them and let the defense work. I know they’re going to do the job for me.”
Mt. Vernon’s offense had its own problems unleashing itself against Centralia’s Matt Brasher. The Rams finished with just one hit. Both runs came in the third inning.
Sawyer Harrison started the inning with a walk. Hayden Poninski dropped down a bunt and reached when Brasher’s throw popped out of B.J. Smith’s glove at first base. With one out, Landon Thomas knocked an RBI single to right that plated Harrison. The Rams then executed a double steal from first and third that confused Brasher and allowed Poninski to score. The run gave the Rams their 2-0 edge.
“Our chances today were few and far between,” Holloway said. “Their pitcher did a good job keeping us off balance. We had a few too many fly ball outs, but our guys found a way to get the job done.”
Outside of the third inning, Jake Pike reached when he was hit by a pitch in the opening inning. Harrison also reached base again in the sixth with a walk.
Mt. Vernon is 28-7-1 this season and travels to the Effingham sectional. The Rams face the host team in the opening round at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Our guys are playing with a lot of emotion right now,” Holloway said. “They want to keep playing as long as they can.”