The New Palestine baseball team had a big offensive day Friday, beating Mt. Vernon 11-5 and 10-0 to sweep a Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader.
The Dragons improved to 10-2 on the year with the sweep and 5-1 in the HHC. NP is in a first-place tie with Pendleton Heights as the season nears the midway point.
The Dragons wasted little time getting going in Game 1, plating five runs in the first inning. From there, NP cruised to the victory, gradually expanding the lead. Nick Rusche’s leadoff double was followed by two walks. Rusche scored on a wild pitch and Jack Walker hit a two-run double to put NP up 3-0. After another walk, Jacob Hickman hit a grounder into the hole that plated two runs and put the Dragons up five.
After an MV run in the top of the third, NP answered with two more in the bottom, with Hickman’s sacrifice fly plating the second run. NP followed with a three-run fifth – which featured an RBI triple by Walker and an RBI single by Andrew Roberts, and another in the sixth on Jacob Garrison’s sacrifice fly. MV scored three runs in the top of the seventh to make it close, but the Dragons held on.
NP’s 11-hit attack was led by Rusche – who was 3-for-4 with a double and a run- and Walker. The latter was 3-for-4 with a double, triple, three runs and three RBI. Hickman also drove in three runs, going 1-for-2. Colby Jenkins, Jacob Smith and Andrew Roberts also had hits for the Dragons. Smith scored three times.
Watson was dominant on the mound, allowing no earned runs and fanning 12 in five innings, while walking one and allowing one hit. Cameron Pitzer closed out the game with two innings of relief.
In the second game, Kyle Gardner threw a two-hit shutout as the Dragons won 10-0 in six innings. Gardner’s toughest jam was a bases-loaded, one-out situation while facing the top of the Marauders’ order in the third after a double, walk and an error. But he got out of it with a strikeout and a groundout. Gardner fanned nine batters.
Again, NP wasted little time getting started, scoring three runs in the first, again with Rusche hitting a single to start the game. He scored on an error, and Tyler Martin hit a two-run, two-out triple to put the Dragons up 3-0. NP added two in the fourth, with Keegan Watson opening things with a triple and scoring on Jacob Smith’s single. After a double by Walker, Gardner drove in Smith with a base hit. A three-run fourth pushed the lead to 8-0, fueled by three errors and a double by Smith. NP added two more with four hits in the sixth – doubles by Jenkins and Garrison and RBI singles by Watson and Deven Harris.
NP had 12 hits in the game, with Watson going 2-for-4 with a single, a triple, two runs and an RBI. Rusche was 2-for-4 with two runs. Smith was 2-for-4 with a double and three runs, as well as an RBI. Jenkins had a double and a run. Walker and Harris each had doubles. Martin had a triple and two RBI. Gardner and Harris had a single and an RBI each.
The Dragons are next in action Monday at home against Brebeuf.