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Mount Vernon bats slowed by Larchwood's Pugliese

SIOUX FALLS -- The Mount Vernon Cardinals could not figure out Larchwood Diamonds starter Travis Pugliese.

Pugliese mixed and matched a variety of pitches to stymie the Cardinals’ bats leading to a 13-6 Larchwood victory at the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday.

Pugliese went six innings, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out seven and walking two.

“He had a nice arm,” Mount Vernon player/manager Eric Denning said. “He does a good job of getting his fastball in and his curveball off the plate.”

The only Mount Vernon hitter who seemed to have a beat on Pugliese was Frank Cutler. Cutler, a pick-up player from the Platte Killer Tomatoes, recorded three hits with a short, quick swing. Cutler’s final hit came in the top of the sixth inning.

Brian Vermeulen, a Legion player, led off the sixth with a single for the Cardinals. Vermeulen stole second and advanced to third on a balk. He eventually scored on an RBI groundout by Chase Hetland.

After Hetland’s ground out the Cardinals trailed 4-1. To keep the rally going, Mount Vernon’s Phil Malde singled up the middle and Cutler singled to right field, giving the offense some momentum. But hopes were ended when the potential tying run, Sean Devries, struck out to end the inning and the threat.

Larchwood avenged the run it gave up in the top half of the inning by breaking open the game with a six-run sixth inning to push the lead to 10-1.

“We didn’t score enough runs early in the game,” Denning said. “They are a good-hitting team and you have to hit the ball well to compete with them.”

Mount Vernon starter Cody London and Pugliese both exited the game after a nearly two and one half hour rain delay, which halted play with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. London threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing 10 runs on nine hits.

Once play started again, Luke Bamberg came in for Mount Vernon and Jacob Moser was Larchwood’s reliever of choice. Bamberg is a pick-up player from Corsica/Stickney.

The Mount Vernon offense mounted an attack in both the seventh and eighth inning. The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh, highlighted by an RBI double by Vermeulen and an RBI single by Hetland. They tacked on another two in the eighth on two out RBI singles by Vermeulen and Davis. But the six-run sixth doomed the Cardinals, who couldn’t mount a big enough rally to make the game close again.

Vermeulen finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Justin Davis and Bamberg had two hits each to lead the Cardinals.

“When you are down nine, it’s easier to come up and be more relaxed and swing freely,” said Denning, explaining why the team scored five runs in the seventh and eighth innings after scoring one in the first six. “We are young and I think we were a bit jittery earlier on in the game.”

Mount Vernon, which finished seventh in the Sunshine League, ends its season 5-14 overall.