The state’s No. 1 high school baseball prospect finally took the mound Saturday.
Ben Hess pitched his first game for Charleston on Saturday, running his fastball to 95 mph in shutting down Mahomet for 3 1/3 innings.
Several MLB scouts and a fairly large crowd watched as the 6-foot-5 senior right-hander struck out eight, allowed only one hit and walked three on 70 pitches.
“I thought Ben was excellent for being on the mound for the first time in several months,” Charleston coach Derrick Landrus said. “Maybe a little amped up at times, but that was to be expected. Our guys have been wanting to see him pitch and he certainly didn’t disappoint.”
Hess’s younger brother, James, drove in four runs, including a two-run single in the first inning, to lead Charleston’s 10-5 victory, the start of a doubleheader sweep at Marty Pattin Field.
Dane Herrington and Kendall Pankey also collected two hits apiece while Luke Landrus earned three walks. Pankey scored three runs.
Charleston rallied from a seven-run deficit entering the fifth inning in the second game and secured the win 8-7 on a play at the plate.
The Trojans scored five runs in that fifth inning on a two-run single by Cory Spour, an RBI double by Ty Coartney and an error on James Hess’s grounder. Coartney then scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-5.
Charleston took advantage of a dropped third strike and two errors to go ahead with three runs in the sixth inning.
Coartney earned the win by throwing 2 2/3 of scoreless relief, but he had to work out of a jam in the final inning. After striking out the first batter, he allowed a single, double and hit a batter to load the bases.
Spour then caught a grounder by the next batter to force out a runner on a throw to catcher Luke Landrus for the second out. Two pitches later, Landrus blocked a pitch in the dirt, scrambled to retrieve the ball and tossed it to Coartney, who tagged Mahomet’s Blake Wolters for the final out before he could cross the plate and tie the score.
Charleston (16-6) is now in second place in the Apollo Conference at 2-2, one game behind both Mattoon and Effingham. The Green Wave swept the Hearts on Saturday, 4-1 and 14-13.