Miracle strong as Redskins top Panthers
After being saddled with the loss in an inning of work in Tuesday’s 8-7 loss to Plainfield Central, Morris junior Preston Miracle was back on the hill Thursday in a non-conference matchup against the Oswego Panthers. This time, Miracle and the Redskins came out on top with a 3-1 victory.
Despite not having his best command of the strike zone, Miracle churned out six innings and scattered four hits while adding seven strikeouts and coming away with the win. It was a performance that stood out to Morris head coach Todd Kein.
“Gutsy – I think is a pretty good word,” Kein said in describing Miracle’s efforts on the mound. “We’ve been blessed with some warm weather, which I think everybody has welcomed with open arms this early in the season, but today was more of a normal March day.
“We were interested to see how our team was going to respond after a dramatic win by Plainfield Central. Preston happened to be on the mound when that occurred, but we also have confidence in Preston. So we knew coming out here starting the game that he was gonna give us a gutsy performance.”
And the Redskins would need it on a chilly day with the wind blowing in and offense proving hard to come by.
Offensively, the Redskins used sharp execution to manufacture a run in the bottom of the second inning, and after failing to score a run in the third with the bases loaded and nobody out, the Redskins added a run in the fourth after senior right fielder Jake Wilson led off with a double and scored on an error.
In the fifth, with cleanup hitter Greg Struck leading off by being hit with a pitch, the Redskins used small ball to add an insurance run. A bunt single by designated hitter Ryan Borgstrom would eventually load the bases, and Wilson drove in the run with an RBI groundout. The Redskins had four bunt hits on the day.
“On a day like today (execution) is huge because you don’t know who is going to come out swinging the bats. You tend to grip the bat a little tighter when it’s cold, thinking you’re gonna warm yourself up a little bit, but sometimes that can work in the other direction. But, I’m happy with the small ball that we’ve been playing because we put ourselves in the position to score runs,” Kein said.
Meanwhile, Oswego was also struggling with the conditions and they failed to capitalize on eight walks by Miracle. The Panthers left 11 runners stranded on the day, and Miracle had several critical strikeouts to bail himself out of a jam.
“It was great. I was really looking forward to today to see how I would respond (to Tuesday’s loss). I was definitely proud that I could come out here and get a win for us,” Miracle said.
In the seventh, Miracle’s day would come to an end after back-to-back walks brought the go-ahead run to the plate with nobody out. However, junior Kade Bashor was there to shut the door.
Bashor got an out before hitting a batter and loading the bases, but he was able to induce a groundout for out No. 2. Then, with tensions mounting after a pair of close pitches where he didn't get the call, Bashor dropped in a 3-2 curveball to strike out Oswego right fielder Nick Wernke and end the game.
The win improves the Redskins' record to 4-5-1 on the season while the visiting Panthers drop to 3-2.