OTTAWA — The Morris Redskins pulled out a huge win against rival Ottawa on the road Wednesday night, thanks to clutch hitting and a bit of luck in the late innings, en route to a 5-3 win.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh, Morris shortstop Trevor Lines was hit by a pitch from Ottawa ace Jonah Morris. Following a flyout to center field, a sacrifice bunt by Matt Bernickus moved him to second with two outs. Leadoff man Jason Matteson was issued an intentional walk to set up a force out at any base, but Austin Conrod hit a sharp liner that was misplayed by the Ottawa shortstop, allowing two runs to score – giving Morris the lead, 4-3.
“I was just thinking, okay, I can’t strike out to end the game,” said Conrod. “In my end, I’m just thinking ‘I gotta put the ball in play, I gotta put the ball in play’.”
Morris senior Grant Davis drove in Conrod with an RBI single to add an insurance run later that inning. Both Conrad and David had a pair of hits in the contest, with Conrod reaching on errors in his other two plate appearances.
“Austin Conrod is a gritty, gutsy player. To look at him, you might not think that if you don’t know him,” said coach Todd Kein said. “He’s been in a lot of two strike situations already this year where he’s come up … and he was able to come through again today for us.”
Ottawa (4-2) put the pressure on Morris reliever Bubba Henry (3-0) in the bottom of the frame, after Michael Hermosillo cracked a double to the left-center field gap to lead off the inning. The next batter, Kyle Wallbaum, hit a deep fly ball to right for the first out of the inning, and it initially looked like Hermosillo tagged and advanced to third. However, a heads-up play by the Morris defense – throwing to second to check with the base umpire – led to his being called out for a critical second out in the inning. A soft liner to second base ended the game, giving Morris a major win on their resume come regional time this spring.
“There’s really no way as a coach you can downplay the gravity of the situation,” said Kein after the game.
“Aside from that, they’re a very good baseball team. We had to be sharp and be on top of things to be in a position to win. We look forward to possibly matching up with them down the road.”
The Redskins’ starting pitcher, Tim Smyk, settled down after some early control problems, lasting into the sixth inning before being pulled, allowing just three runs and notching four punch-outs over the five-plus innings of work. He was given an early cushion thanks to two Morris runs in the top of the third inning, coming via a pair of base hits and an Ottawa error, one of three in the game for the Pirates.