WELLINGTON — Good pitching and timely hitting throughout the order were the catalysts for Vermilion as it swept a doubleheader from Wellington in non-conference play Saturday afternoon at Coach Larry DeVoe Memorial Field.
The Sailors (4-1) defeated the Dukes (0-2) 3-2 in the first game and took the second 5-2.
“Anytime you sweep a doubleheader, you’re smiling about it,” Vermilion coach Jeff Keck said. “Wellington’s got a young team. They’ve got some nice players. I’m just happy to get out of here with a couple wins.
“Hopefully, we can get some momentum going into the conference. Next Wednesday, we open up with Elyria Catholic.”
Wellington junior Erik Fehlan started the first game and was perfect through three innings, but the Sailors broke through in the fourth. With leadoff hitter Gabe Skahen on base after a single, junior outfielder Justin Albrethsen singled in Vermilion’s first run.
After two more one-two-three innings, the Sailors added two insurance runs.
With one out and a 1-2 count in the seventh inning, Albrethsen reached on an error. Back-to-back singles from Vinny Ragnoni and Garrett Koutsopoulus loaded the bases for pitcher Nick Dlugosz. The junior lifted a ball to right field, Wellington’s Chase Novotny dropped it and two runs scored.
The Dukes shook it off and rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Senior catcher Clay Wright was hit by a pitch, and Fehlan drilled a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field.
But Dlugosz was able to get the next three batters for the complete-game victory. He struck out 10 and walked one. The key was his fastball.
“I was hitting my spots really good with it, so I stuck with it the whole game,” Dlugosz said.
Vermilion left two runners on base in the top of the second during the second game, but came back with runs in the third and fourth.
Skahen doubled with one out in the third inning and scored on Albrethsen’s single to center. In the fourth, Dlugosz reached on a walk and Ryan Miller singled to left-center field, bringing junior second baseman Nate Buchanan — the No. 9 hitter — to the plate.
Buchanan doubled down the right-field line, driving in Dlugosz and Miller.
“How about that? That was a great job by Nate,” Keck said. “He came in and started at second base in the second game and came up with a big hit. That turned out to be huge and that’s good for Nate, too, because he’s such a great kid. No one works harder than Nate.”
The Sailors added two runs in the top of the sixth after a close call at first base gave Koutsopoulus a single, which preceded two Wellington errors.
“That’s just baseball, that stuff happens sometimes,” Wellington coach Roger Sasack said. “That turns the complexion of the game around. We got a bad call at first base that we don’t get an out on and they score a couple runs after that and then it starts to snowball. We can’t mix all that stuff together and expect good results.”
The Dukes brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases, but they only pushed across one on a fielder’s choice. Koutsopoulus ended the rally by striking out junior Jacob Grimmett on three pitches.
“It was a big out, that last out, because I didn’t want to face those other two guys with guys on base,” Keck said. “He worked himself out of trouble, kept his composure and was able to get out of that. Good for Garrett because he needed to do that.”