BY JOHN DUBOIS
Coming off a breakout sophomore season where he won seven games and posted a 1.52 ERA, Michael Vascura had pitched well but still took the loss in each of his first two starts this season.
That changed Friday as Vascura struck out 13 of the 22 batters he faced and only allowed one hit as the Danville Vikings blew open the game late in a 10-0 six-inning win over the Covington Trojans at Danville Stadium.
The Vikings were scheduled to have their home opener on March 16, but because of weather conditions over the last three weeks, the Vikings have only been able to play three times while having seven games postponed. The only Trojans hit was a one-out double by Blake Norwell in the top of the sixth.
“We were really hoping for the no hitter,” said Danville coach Gary Gritton. “It was a ball hit to the sun field in right. Michael struggled early today with his command and I wasn’t sure he had his best stuff, but once he settled in he was able to get ahead of the hitters from strike one and pitched very well.
“Michael is a junior with a lot of experience on the mound and with the tough luck he had pitching in his first two starts, it was nice to see his efforts be rewarded with a win.”
A bases clearing double by Austin West would give the Vikings a 3-0 lead they would hold until the bottom of the fifth.
“Austin came up with a big hit for us early,” Gritton said. It gave us breathing room.”
Trojans starter Craig Root would recover and sat down the next eight batters in a row before allowing a fourth inning single to West.
“Craig Root threw a great game for us and if we are able to score with two runners in scoring position in the first and then get out of the bottom of the inning who knows how the game goes,” said Covington coach Troy Bever. “Our biggest opponent so far this season has been ourselves. We took a lot of strikes and got down in the counts and then when we needed to be aggressive at the plate we were being defensive with two strikes.
“We did battle today, but our goal is to play smarter baseball. We have been competing, but we have to be able to get out of innings when we have the chance. Our attitude has been great and I am happy with the effort from our team.”
The Vikings would explode for six runs in the bottom of the fifth with RBI hits from Chuckie Robinson, Gabe Garza, and Caleb Finley along with a run scoring walk from Chase Thurston.
“It was a nice hit from Gabe and Caleb put down a great bunt,” Gritton said. “We weren’t able to execute a bunt in the loss to Paris and its good to see the things we talk about executed properly in game situations.”
Vascura would single home Robinson for the final run in the sixth.
“We played pretty solid defense today and this was a good win for us,” Gritton said. “It’s the first week of April and we are playing our first game at the stadium which is just unheard of. It has really been a crazy spring for us which has been very frustrating for the guys and for myself as a coach. It was a great day for baseball, it was a great atmosphere today with a great crowd, and we were excited to finally be on our home field.”
Both teams return to action today. The Vikings move to 2-2 overall and will face the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. at Danville Stadium, while the Trojans return home to face North Putnam.