Dawgs bite Mt’neers district championship hopes

Skylan Akins

Aurora junior Hayze Hoffman unleashes a line drive single against Mt. Vernon in the district championship. Hayze finished the game 1-2 with two walks and a run scored in Aurora’s 8-0 win over the Mt’neers. (Photo by Skylan Akins)

If you’re a Mt. Vernon Mt’neer, you have two goals. You want to beat rival Aurora, and win a district championship. If you are an Aurora Houn’ Dawg, you have two similar goals. Beat Mt. Vernon and win a district championship. On Thursday night, both teams had the opportunity to achieve both with one win.
Aurora came into districts riding an 11-game win streak that included a 4-0 win over the Mt’neers back in April. The Dawgs faced little resistance as the top seed, beating Monett 7-2 in the semifinal game.
The Mt’neers have been on a roll to end the season winning six of their final eight games including an upset over state-ranked Hollister. Mt. Vernon took care of sixth-seed Seneca 3-1 on Monday. They then upset second-seed Reeds Spring, 6-4, Tuesday to set up a matchup with the Dawgs, Thursday.
It was the ace of Aurora, Trey Mulholland, taking on freshman Braden Dodson who has pitched like an ace in the second half of the year. Dodson led off the game with a single and sophomore Jake Leeper walked to spell a bit of trouble for the Dawgs early on, but the threat happened without any runs coming across.
The bottom of the first was a much different story for Mt. Vernon. Aurora’s senior trio of Jaesik Friggle, Aaron Fisher and Mulholland led the game off with a single, triple and walk, respectively. The Dawgs weren’t done, as junior Kelton Brown, Heath Hoffman and Ryan Clark doubled surrounding a Hayze Hoffman walk. Ethan Whitlock walked and this resulted in the first eight Aurora batters of the game reaching base safely for seven runs. Mt. Vernon had their work cut out for them. Mt. Vernon coach Nick Swillum then made the pitching swap to another freshman in Brayden Jameson.
Jameson allowed multiple baserunners in two of his three innings, but kept the Dawgs off the scoreboard while Mulholland retired the Mt’neers in order the next five innings and saw just four hitters in the seventh, as he dominated the Mt’neer order in the 8-0 victory.
“We talked all week that the velocity in our district wasn’t overpowering and our guys like a little velocity and sometimes struggle against softer throwing pitchers,” said Aurora head coach James Hoffman. “We talked about staying back and driving the ball the other direction and they did a good job of that.”

The Houn’ Dawgs advanced to the sectional round Tuesday as they travel to Lee’s Summit to take on Summit Christian Academy.

Season ends
In the other dugout, the season ended for the Mt. Vernon Mt’neers with a 14-13 record and peaking at the right time.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said Mt. Vernon head coach Nick Swillum. “They never laid down. All season long they just continued to battle and expect good things to happen. It didn’t go for us today but for a team as young as we were, I couldn’t be more proud of what they did.”
Mt. Vernon graduates two seniors in Brady Brown and Mt. Vernon all-time leader in strikeouts Tristan Jones.
“They have been big for us. They won just six games a year ago and to come off a season like that and lead a young team to a winning record and a district championship game is major,” Swillum said.
There’s plenty of hope for the Mt’neers next year returning eight starters, and with a junior varsity squad that went 14-5 this season, expectations should be high for Mt. Vernon a year from now.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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