Coming off a dramatic victory over perennial power Plainfield North on Monday and set to take on one of the state’s top ranked teams in Ottawa on Wednesday, a Tuesday matchup with the Plano Reapers shaped up to be a potential letdown game for the Morris Runnin’ Redskins. However, despite not coming through with one of their strongest performances, the ‘Skins were able to hold off Plano and improve to 6-1 on the season with a 12-8 win.
The Reapers gave Morris starting pitcher Preston Miracle some problems in the early going, tagging him for five straight one-out singles in the top of the first. However, Morris was able to strand a trio of runners and hold Plano to just one run in their half of the inning.
In the second inning, Morris erased the deficit and then some. The Redskins tied the game at one when junior Matt Bernickus tallied the first of his three RBI on the day with a flipshot single into right field that scored courtesy runner Kyle Hill.
All told the Redskins were able to push six runs across in the inning on four hits and ended the second with a commanding 6-1 lead. Senior Grant Davis, Bernickus and junior Trevor Lines, Morris’ No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters, respectively, would go on to play a huge part in the Redskins success at the plate, combining to go 7-for-9 with seven runs scored and four RBI.
“I’m feeling good at the plate right now,” Lines said following a 3-for-3 day at the plate. “I’m seeing the ball well and concentrating on taking the ball the other way and trying to drive it.
“(The bottom of the order) was able to take some pressure off the top of the order today and let them focus on driving us in once we were on base.”
Meanwhile, Miracle continued to battle through a feisty Plano lineup and was able to exit the game with an 11-2 lead having thrown 70 pitches through four innings. He’d go on to notch the win, giving up six hits and just one earned run while striking out four during his four innings of work.
However, in the fifth inning with Miracle out in favor of fellow senior Kade Bashor, the Reapers were able to cut into the Redskins lead. Plano’s Cody Dryden started the inning off with a double and the Reapers pushed across three runs on the inning to reduce the lead to 11-5.
Dryden would finish the day 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and an RBI.
“As a coach, you’re always on guard for a letdown after a big dramatic win and our goal today was to come out and be sharp,” Morris head coach Todd Kein said. “Today I felt like we were a little lackluster, but Plano is a team that puts the ball in play hard.”
In the sixth inning with junior right-hander Brock Kukman on the mound, Plano tacked on a couple more runs and threatened to make a game out of it with one out and runners at first and third, but Kukman was able to induce a pair of groundouts to preserve an 11-7 lead for Morris heading into their half of the inning. The Redskins were then able to tack on another insurance run with a sac fly by Bernickus.
In the seventh, big Bubba Henry was able to finish off the game, giving up just one run to make the final tally 12-8. It was a welcomed victory for the Redskins, but thoughts immediately turned to playing sharper baseball tomorrow in Ottawa.
“The bottom line is that we cannot play the way we played today tomorrow. The bigger issue is that we cannot be a team that is inconsistent regardless of who we’re playing,” Kein said.