Teams converge in Mount Vernon for state: Mount Vernon, Parkston, Gregory, Canova among eight-team fieldIn the first round of today’s junior varsity 13-14 state teener tournament, all four games will be first-time matchups this summer.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
In the first round of today’s junior varsity 13-14 state teener tournament, all four games will be first-time matchups this summer.
The three-day, eight-team tournament starts at noon today in Mount Vernon. The championship is being played at 5 p.m. Sunday and the top six places are played out.
First-round matchups are Canova vs. Alcester, noon; Gregory vs. Volga, 2:30 p.m.; Parkston vs. Selby/Eureka, 5:30 p.m.; and Mount Vernon vs. Garretson, 8 p.m.
Mount Vernon, which automatically qualified for the tournament as the host team, won the Region 3B tournament in Emery and is playing some of its best baseball as of late, head coach Eric Denning said.
“We’re did a really good job at the plate and our pitching held up,” said Denning, whose team is 15-4. “I was really pleased with what we did in our region.”
Mount Vernon is sending either Joe Davis or Owen London to the mound today against Garretson. Denning listed both Davis and London, along with Tate Deinert, as the team’s top hitters. They are each batting over .400 this summer.
Mount Vernon defeated Canova twice in the region tournament earlier this month. Canova battled back to be the region representative and the team has an 8-13 record headed into today.
Canova is sending Jordan Genzlinger to the mound today in its first-round matchup against Alcester.
Mike Gassman, Canova’s head coach, said the team has a deep pitching staff. He also mentioned Jesse Muth as a strong arm for Canova, which lost five one-run games this year with two extra-inning losses.
“Some of them are just throwers and some are pretty good pitchers,” said Gassman, adding he doesn’t know anything about Alcester. “I think we have good enough pitching to pitch with anyone. I also think we have the sticks to hit with anyone. But we’re a young team.”
Gassman said Genzlinger, Muth, Tanner Miller and Cole Gassman are the team’s top hitters. Cole Gassman has the team’s best on-base percentage, while Genzlinger is the “best slugger.”
Gregory (14-2) won the Region 4B tournament and is playing Volga today.
Head coach Vic Warnke said he feels his team has the tools to win the tournament.
“We’ve got a real good defense, a real solid infield,” Warnke said. “We’ve got a good core that’s real fun to work with. Our top three pitchers, we’re real happy with them. They throw strikes.”
Gregory’s top pitcher who is throwing today is Robert Vermocka. But Warnke is expecting a low-scoring game.
“We haven’t faced them, and I know they have a darn good pitcher, too,” he said. “They’re no one we can take lightly from what I’ve heard, but that’s just hearsay talking to other coaches from around the state.”
Gregory’s top bats are Joesph Veskrna, Brandon Warnke, Sean Kafka, Vermocka and Jade VanDerWerff.
Parkston was the runner-up in the Region 4B tournament, beating Gregory once but losing in the championship game. Parkston head coach Tim Rands, whose team is 18-8, feels his team has a strong chance at getting to the championship game Sunday.
“We’ve got three good arms, but I also feel that Gregory or Mount Vernon — because I know both of those teams — could easily walk away with the championship as well,” Rands said. “They’re both very solid. I see us top three or four.”
Rands said he’s head that Selby/Eureka’s top six hitters will be a force and team speed will play a factor. Parkston will send either Alex Scott or Wes Genant to the mound today. Rands said his other top pitcher is Blake Bietz. Genant leads the team in batting average at .578, Bietz is at .525 and Dillan Thuringer is hitting .517.
“Our biggest strength is hitting and team speed,” Rands said. “I’ve also got three kids that can go to the mound and throw strikes.”
NOTES: Before the 8 p.m. game today, there will be a ceremony honoring Purple Heart recipients, soldiers killed in war and war veterans. The tournament is a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) sponsored, and Mount Vernon resident Dave Renken wants to recognize veterans in the area for their service.
“It’s something that needs to be done, honoring these people,” he said. “It’s important, because the veterans are some of the most important people in the country. It’s just a little way to say thank you.”
There will be 12 Purple Heart recipients, and four families who’ve had a relative killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be guests of honor at the tournament.