MOUNT AYR – Mount Ayr picked up a 3-1 win over Central Decatur Friday from the bat of an unlikely source and pitching performance from an inexperienced freshman.
The Raiders’ offense started the game going six up and six down while Central Decatur’s offense put one runner on from a walk through two innings.
Mount Ayr sent Jaydon Knight to the hill in his first start of the season. Knight struck out five of the first seven batters he faced.
“We’re kind of guessing and taking some bad swings,” Central Decatur head coach Shane Akers said about the offensive struggles. “We need to be a little more disciplined at the plate and drive the ball the other way on anything out over the plate. We just didn’t do enough of that tonight.”
The abundance of pitchers on the Raiders’ roster has made it difficult for Knight to find time on the mound, but he didn’t disappoint.
Knight pitched four innings, striking out six and allowed one earned run.
Mount Ayr didn’t see its first hit of the game until the third inning when senior right fielder Austin Greenland stepped up to the plate.
Greenland entered the game hitting .091, 1-for-10. In recent games, Jaixen Frost was Greenland’s designated hitter, but Frost was on vacation for Friday’s game.
Greenland took an inside pitch in his first at-bat over the left-field fence in a no-doubt home run that gave Mount Ayr a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third off of Michel Evertsen.
With Knight pitching so well, the slim lead seemed insurmountable with all three of Knight’s pitches working on both sides of the plate.
Central Decatur went down in order during the third and fourth inning before recording the first hits of the game in fifth. David Walker and Dakota Reed singled to lead the inning off. Tate Hill bunted to move the runners to second and third. Devin Adams hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring pinch-runner Champ Walker from third.
Dawson Swank, relieving Knight, recorded a strikeout to end the inning and strand a runner on second base as the Raiders were clinging to a 2-1 lead midway through the fifth inning.
The Raiders recorded their second hit of the game with a single off the bat of Erik Trujillo. Greenland was up again, blasting another home run to extend Mount Ayr’s lead to 3-1.
Greenland’s day ended with two at-bats, both home runs, to tally for all three of the Raiders’ runs.
“That’s hard,” Akers said on knowing Greenland wouldn’t typically be in the lineup. “He just made a couple good swings. That’s baseball.”
Cardinals’ ace Evertsen finished his day throwing six innings, striking out three and allowing three earned runs.
“He pitched really well,” Akers said. “He had three of his four pitches going, but after he gave up the second home run, actually his curveball got little bit better. He probably got a little upset, drove him a little bit, but he was effective overall.”