By PAUL HINES
---- — EFFINGHAM – Brock Fulkerson wasn't afraid to let his defense work for him Wednesday night.
Fulkerson hurled a two-hitter against Effingham, and Mt. Vernon's baseball team won 2-0 in the sectional semifinal.“I had all three pitches going for strikes,” Fulkerson said. “Let them hit it. (If) you have a defense like us, it works out. You can win most of the time.”Effingham rarely hit the ball hard against Fulkerson. The Flaming Hearts first hit of the game didn't come until the fourth inning on an infield single. Fulkerson got eight fly ball outs and fanned eight batters while walking one.“He's level-headed. He competes hard, but he keeps his cool,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “He's very poised out there.”The Rams offense struck in the third inning. Sawyer Harrison opened the inning with a walk. Hayden Poninski moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Harrison raced in to score on a single from Landon Thomas. The Rams center fielder later scored on a single from Collin Young that put Mt. Vernon up 2-0. Both scores came with two outs.“Those were a couple seniors coming through with some tough at-bats and finding the way to get the job done,” Holloway said.The Rams tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning. Harrison lead off with an infield single. He was forced out at second on a ground ball off the bat of Poninski. Pike stepped up and lofted a double over the head of the center field, scoring Poninski.Mt. Vernon pushed its advantage to 4-0 when Thomas pushed a ground ball to second base, scoring Pike.“We got the two, but we wanted to keep adding on,” Holloway said.Effingham had rattled off three straight regional wins before falling to the Rams in the sectional.“We're going against a team that's hot in Effingham on their home field in their sectional,” Holloway said. “It's not going to be easy. I don't care what their record is at this time of year they're going to be playing their best.”Mt. Vernon is 29-8-1 this season and plays in the sectional final at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Rams face the winner of today's Triad-Mascoutah matchup.“This is the position we expect to be in,” Holloway said. “We played a good game. We had a few miscues, but Brock got out of any trouble that we were in.”
Mt. Vernon 4, Effingham 0 Leaders Landon Thomas 1 hit, 2 RBI Jake Pike 2 hits Sawyer Harrison 1 hit, walk