Kevin Kelly reports:
In his postgame remarks to his players Thursday, Princeton baseball coach Rick Wilson used Mason as an example of what the Vikings are striving to become.
Mason breezed to an 11-1 victory in five innings against Princeton at Gower Park and remains undefeated this season.
“They don’t look like a super overpowering team, but they’re not going to beat themselves,” Wilson said. “They’re going to hit one through nine. They’re going to have solid pitching, solid defense, and I think they’ve got a legitimate chance to bang heads with Moeller.
- Photos: Mason defeats Princeton
“Moeller is the defending state champs, so they’re the big dog until you knock them off. But these guys, they’ve got a legitimate chance to make a good tournament run, if not win a state title.”
Ranked No. 1 in The Enquirer’s Division I area baseball coaches’ poll, Mason improved to 15-0 with the victory. Princeton dropped to 4-12.
The Comets were led by senior shortstop Connor McVey, who went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, and senior pitcher Seth Bowles. The right-hander (5-0) allowed one run on four hits over four innings.
“I think people are starting to take notice,” said McVey, who will play college ball at UC. “But we’re still playing with that chip on our shoulder. We still have to prove ourselves. We haven’t won anything.”
Mason coach Ken Gray felt he had a good group of players returning from a team that finished 20-8 and won the Greater Miami Conference last season.
“We didn’t know how it was going to shake out,” said Gray. “We thought we’d be good. We knew they’d give us a chance, and they have so far.”
The secret to Mason’s success isn’t much of a secret at all: timely hitting, good pitching and solid defense.
The Comets entered Thursday hitting .381 as a team and averaging 9.1 runs per game.
“They are definitely focused. They go about their preparation each day in an efficient baseball manner, probably as efficient as any club we’ve had,” Gray said. “But then again, it’s been different kids stepping up for us in big situations in several of the ballgames. It’s not been any one player.”
McVey is the reigning GMC Player of the Year and entered Thursday hitting .318.
Gray said some have walked him to pitch to senior second baseman RJ Thompson, who was hitting .500 with six extra-base hits and 17 RBI before Thursday. He singled in his first at-bat Thursday and also drew two walks.
Senior right fielder Lee Sponseller hits eighth but carried a team-best .514 average into Thursday’s game. Junior Connor Bryan and senior third baseman Drew Johnson also boasted batting averages above .400.
On the mound, the Comets lost junior Chris Martin for the season because of an injury, but have managed to get by without him.
The Comets’ top three returning starters – TJ Zeuch (3-0), Andrew McDonald (3-0) and Bowles – are a combined 11-0 this season. As a staff, Mason entered Thursday with a 1.49 earned run average.
Bowles struck out eight without a walk Thursday.
“There’s a lot of people talking from other schools and stuff,” Bowles said. “I think we’re being really respectful and have good character as a team overall. We can’t think about the future. We’ve got to think about the next game.” ■
W-Bowles (5-0, 8K); L-Bosel (1-2). Leaders: M-McVey 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Johnson 2-3, RBI. P-Thompson 1-1, 3B; Krause 1-2, 2B, RBI. Records: M-15-0, P-4-12.