By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARTHAGE, Mo. – As Trason Vogt delivered the pitch, Patrick Lester squared up for a bunt.
The Mt. Vernon senior sent the ball through the air to the right side of the infield and beat the throw to first base.
The single ended Vogt’s bid for a no-hitter in the final inning of Carthage’s 12-0 win on Friday night in the championship game of the 45th Annual Bill O’Dell Tournament at Carl Lewton Stadium.
“I was very frustrated with myself because I left that right over the middle, a perfect place for him to bunt,” Vogt said.
The Carthage senior immediately picked off Lester, who was tagged out after a brief rundown.
“I took that very personal actually,” Vogt said. “I wanted him off the base paths so that’s what I did.”
On a night in which the Tigers were virtually perfect in every facet of the game, the story was Vogt’s gem on the mound.
The 5-foot-9 left hander was perfect until he hit a batter in the third inning and he never allowed a runner past second base. He allowed two more singles after the bunt and finished with a final line of six innings, three hits, no walks and 12 strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches, including 63 strikes.
Vogt said his whole arsenal was working, including a fastball that sat around 88 to 90 miles per hour.
“Fastball was running good, curveball was moving really well and the splitter was doing what it does,” he said.
“You could tell early his velocity was good,” Carthage coach Mike Godfrey said. “You could see he had command of the breaking ball and just to see him really competing and with confidence, it was good to see. He raises the level of confidence on all of our guys especially when he comes out early like that.”
Mt. Vernon, which won a coin flip and elected to play as the home team, trailed before it got to bat. Carthage sent eight hitters to the plate in the top of the first and scored two runs on singles by juniors Kale Schrader and Tanner Green.
“I thought we were going to struggle as soon as they scored the first two runs because with him on the mound it was going to be hard to put up runs,” Mt. Vernon coach Nick Swillum said. “It’s like I told coach Godfrey before the game started when he handed me his lineup, high school teams just don’t see that kind of velocity enough to have their timing down, especially early in the season. I told our guys I’m glad we got to face him because I thought we got better against him as the game went on and had some quality at bats. It’s hard on high school hitters to hit that type of velocity.”
Carthage added two more runs in the second on singles by Vogt and Schrader. The Tigers increased their lead to 6-0 in the fourth when senior Bryce Pugh singled in a run and later scored on a fielder’s choice.
Sophomore Will McCombs, the team’s eight-hole hitter, singled in a run in the fifth with a line drive to right field. Seniors Ian O’Malley and Zeke Sappington drove in runs in the sixth to make it 9-0, and then McCombs came up with the bases loaded and drove a pitch over the left fielder for a bases-clearing triple.
“Our guys were swinging it up and down the lineup,” Godfrey said. “It’s good to see a couple guys in the lower part of the order. Really you could tell they were seeing the ball really well tonight.”
McCombs finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Schrader was 2-for-3 with three runs driven in. Pugh scored three runs, and Vogt helped his cause with a 3-for-4 effort with one RBI.
Mt. Vernon junior Colby Johnston and sophomore Rafe Darter recorded the Mountaineers’ other two hits.
Johnson started on the mound, pitching four innings and striking out four while allowing five earned runs.
“I will say this, I’m proud of my team for finishing second in this tournament,” Swillum said. “This is not an easy tournament. There are some quality teams in this tournament and it’s quite an accomplishment to finish second.”
Mt. Vernon dropped to 7-3.
Carthage, meanwhile, improved to 8-2 with its eighth-straight win.
“Our guys are really enjoying it,” Godfrey said. “We’ve got a tougher part of our schedule coming up so we’ll see how good we are. We’ll see how we handle some adversity.”
About that hair
Carthage may have won Friday’s championship game, but Mt. Vernon may have been the best-looking team on the field.
About 10 players sported permed hair as the hairstyle has apparently taken hold in Mt. Vernon.
Even Swillum removed his hat after the game to reveal permed hair.
The story is this: Swillum told his team he’d perm his hair after he reached the 300-win milestone, if the players did it first.
The players got their hair done the first week of the season. Then, after the Mountaineers beat Lamar 14-4 last week for Swillum’s 300th win, he went the next day and got his hair done, too.
The experience was “about how you’d imagine,” he said. “My wife was there taking lots of pictures. We’re having a blast with it.”
The team has T-shirts featuring the Mountaineer mascot with permed hair. The hashtag #permpower is in use.
“The middle school kids are all getting their hair permed,” Swillum said. “It’s just catching on all through, with golf kids, it’s going from sport to sport. All of a sudden you have kids in every sport that have perms.”