Mt. Pleasant returns to win column in solid fashion
For the Connellsville baseball team, Thursday's exhibition game at Mt. Pleasant represented the first official taste of varsity action for a number of players. For the Vikings, the game represented a chance to regroup after a tough loss.
In the end, Mt. Pleasant's experience won out, as the Vikings came through in several critical situations to post a 6-3 win over the Falcons.
"The coaches and I challenged these guys to respond after the Brownsville game (a 5-2 Mt. Pleasant loss Monday)," Mt. Pleasant coach Tom Hudzema said. "To come back and beat a good Connellsville team was the best way we could do that."
Kevin Yanok and Marcus Malara each had two hits for the Vikings, and Zac Heide and Shane Hertzog drove in two runs each.
"Zac and Shane had a great day," Hudzema said. "But everybody contributed."
The Vikings (2-1) also got some strong pitching from starter Tyler Mellors, who started the game and pitched four scoreless innings to post the victory. He also racked up six strikeouts. Mitch Matlas and Hertzog pitched the final three innings for Mt. Pleasant.
"Tyler and Mitch and Shane all needed some work, and I thought they all did well," Hudzema said.
The Vikings got on the board in the first. Yanok singled and scored on an error. Then in the third, Heide and Malara each singled before Hertzog came through with a clutch two-run single off Connellsville starter Trevor Farrell, who took the loss. Rudy Hynek was hit by a pitch and also scored, as the Vikings built a 4-0 lead. In the fourth, Sean Bradley was hit by a pitch and scored to make it 5-0.
Connellsville kept battling. The Falcons (0-1) managed eight hits, including doubles by Cameron Bernhardt, Brandon Freed and Grant Wortman.
Connellsville got on the board in the fifth. Zach Swift singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by J.T. Stevenson.
Heide added an RBI sacrifice fly in the sixth for the Vikings before Stevenson pulled the Falcons to within three with a two-run single in the seventh. The Falcons managed to bring the tying run to the plate but couldn't complete the rally.
"We're young," Connellsville coach Joe Bonadio said. "We graduated nine starters, and for a lot of guys, this was their first varsity competition. We're coming along, and we didn't lie down. We had opportunities, and we didn't take advantage of them. Mt. Pleasant did take advantage of their opportunities, and they have a good hitting team. Our pitching wasn't bad, but we made some errors. We'll get it together."