Mount Vernon eyes Class B VFW crownCoaches from the teams in this weekend’s Class B VFW teener baseball tournament agree that pitching will be the main factor in which team wins it all.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
Coaches from the teams in this weekend’s Class B VFW teener baseball tournament agree that pitching will be the main factor in which team wins it all.
Eight teams will be fighting for the title of state champions in the tournament that begins Friday and comes to an end Sunday in Platte.
Mount Vernon head coach Eric Denning said an effective pitching staff and the use of innings will be a major factor for his team if it is going to win three-straight games.
“Our strategy going in is about innings and trying to get the maximum from our top pitchers,” he said.
Due to teener baseball rules, if a pitcher throws more than four innings in two days, that pitcher can’t return to the mound later in the tournament.
Deric Denning and Charlie Mahaffey are the top two pitchers for Mount Vernon, and Eric Denning said he hopes to get as much as he can from them.
Mount Vernon (25-4) earned a trip to the state tournament by winning Region 2B and looks to be a top contender entering the weekend.
“We feel like we have a legitimate shot,” Eric Denning said. “We want to go in and play our best baseball and see what happens.”
Along with the pitching staff, Denning said his team has an aggressive style of base running that will put the pressure on opposing defenses.
“Our kids just have a real love for running the bases,” he said. “They’ll take second, they’ll take third. They really study things when they’re on the bases or even in the dugout.”
Mount Vernon takes on Elkton at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Platte in the first round of the tournament.
Corsica, another region champion, also looks to make a push for a state title this weekend.
“We’ve been up and down all year,” Corsica coach Wade Gall said. “If we play as well as possible defensively and not allow a lot of walk, I think we have a good shot at winning a few games and putting pressure on those teams that are considered to be the favorites.”
Gall said Flandreau and Warner and teams he would consider the favorites for the weekend, but he said no one should count his squad out.
“We’ve continually gotten better and better as the years gone on,” he said.
Gall said his team will look to build off the momentum it gained after a 4-0 record in the Region 4B tournament.
“We were down a couple times, but we came back,” he said. “That was a huge momentum gatherer for us. It gave us a lot of encouragement and we hope we can maintain that this week.”
Corsica’s top pitcher, Allen Muilenburg, came out of the bullpen much of the season but will look to get at least one start on the mound for Corsica this weekend.
“Muilenburg has been our key guy,” Gall said. “He came in every once in a while when we needed a key out and as time went on, he started some and we let him go a little bit longer.”
Corsica (14-6) takes on Kimball/White Lake in the first round of the tournament at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Platte.
The Daily Republic was unable to reach Kimball/White Lake’s coach for comments.
Platte, the tournament’s host team, also looks to make a push this weekend.
The team is 8-15 on the season, but head coach Monte Wagner said the players have picked up their games late in the season.
“We struggled early in the year but I feel like we’re ready,” he said. “We should be able to be competitive with whoever we play.”
Platte’s first matchup is against Flandreau at 8 p.m. Friday in Platte.
Wagner said if his team does make a run this weekend, the depth of the pitching staff could be helpful on Sunday.
“We’ve played tournaments where we went into extra innings and, because of our depth, we were able to be successful,” he said. “Our pitching and defense has been consistent.”
Wagner said Cole Heller and Nate Spawn will need to continue their success for the offense to have a good weekend.
Heller leads off for Platte while Spawn bats cleanup and has driven in the most runs for the team.
“Cole’s got fantastic speed and if we can get him on base, he can do a lot of good things for us,” Wagner said. “(Spawn) puts the ball in play a lot and he’s also our biggest hitter.”
The other first-round game is between Warner and Alcester/Hudson at noon on Friday. Semifinal action takes place Saturday and the championship game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday in Platte.