By PAUL HINES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON – Brock Fulkerson hurled a pitching gem in the Rams 2-0 win against rival Centralia on Tuesday.
The junior pitcher threw a complete game and allowed just two hits to the Orphans. He finished with six strikeouts and two walks. Fulkerson didn't surrender a hit until the fifth inning.
“He kept them off balance,” Mt Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “They didn't square up a lot of balls. He located.
“He was on today. He throws several pitches where he wants them, and I thought he really competed well.”
The Orphans advanced into scoring position twice against Fulkerson, but each time he was able to pitch out of danger. The defense behind him helped as well. Shortstop Matthew Williams ended the opening inning when he snagged a ball out of the air and fired its back to first for a double play.
“Our defense has been solid,” Holloway said. “Those guys do a pretty good job. They made every play today and gave us a chance to win.”
Mt. Vernon scratched a run across in the third against Centralia starter Mason McReaken. Hayden Poninski opened the inning with single. Then with two outs, Collin Young walked, and Trevor Flota loaded the bases with an infield single.
“I'm really pleased this year with our overall approach at the plate,” Holloway said. “Even though we only scored two runs, I thought we hit the ball well and put it in play.”
Mt. Vernon's opening run came on a miscue on a throw from the catcher back to McReaken. The throw skipped away from McReaken, allowing an alert Poninski to race in to score from third.
Mt. Vernon added another run in the fifth when Landon Thomas came in to score. The threat started with single off the bats of Thomas and Young.
”We hit the ball well. We didn't strike out much,” Holloway said. “We had good at-bats.”
Mt. Vernon is 15-5 this season and 3-1 in the South Seven Conference. The Orphans entered the game unbeaten in the conference and are now 3-1. Centralia dropped to 7-5 overall.
“We're worried about ourselves,” Holloway said. “If we win we come to play everyday, we're going to have a chance at the end. If we don't, then somebody else is going to win it.”
Mt. Vernon hosts Breese Central today before a road trip Thursday to Belleville Althoff.