It wasn't all fun and games for Morris baseball on Monday against Sycamore, but in the end, a six-run fourth inning proved to be the difference as the Redskins defeated the Spartans 12-7 in the opening game of a three-game set between the two teams.
The Redskins sent sophomore Tim Smyk to the mound, and he ran in to some trouble early, as opposing pitcher Matt Godinsky hit a sacrifice fly to help his own cause, giving Sycamore an early 1-0 lead.
Morris would respond, however, as the Redskins were able to capitalize on a crucial throwing error from the Spartans, leading to the tying run. Morris added another run in the first inning off an RBI groundout from Ryan Borgstrom to make it a 2-1 Redskins lead.
With two outs in the second inning, everything seemed to be alright for Smyk. What ensured, however, was something very rare. After a Sycamore player reached base, the Spartans hit back-to-back-to-back home runs, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 Sycamore lead.
"Unfortunately I've seen that happen to me in a high school game before," Morris coach Todd Kein said of the home run outburst from Sycamore. "On a day like today with the wind blowing out like it was, those things aren't overly surprising."
"I left a couple pitches up," Smyk added. "The guys just hit it up into the wind and they flew over the fence."
The tide of the game would turn the Redskins' way in the fourth inning, as Morris was able to respond with six runs of their own to go up 8-5. The rally started with a two-run homer from Jake Capko to make it a 5-4 game.
"It was a 2-1 count, and coach Kein has always been telling me to hit the ball away," Capko said of the home run. "I just saw my pitch and drove it that way, and it went over the fence."
The inning was capped off by another two-run home run, this one from Jake Ruettiger, making it a 8-5 Redskins lead. Overall, Godinsky threw 29 pitches in the inning, and he only lasted one more inning after the fourth.
"Those are the types of innings we've been [giving] up to our opposition," Kein said. "We've been working hard to avoid those innings, and I think we minimized the damage on their side early and we were able to have an inning where we came out were able to score some runs."
Morris hit two more home runs in the fifth inning, as Greg Struck led off the inning with a solo home run, and it ended with a two-run shot by Kenny Milsovic to make it a 12-5 game.
"It was a nice change of pace for us today offensively," Kein said. "Sometimes when individual guys don't perform well, it's hard mentally. But our guys have shown that as a team when one guy contributes, it lifts everyone else up."
Smyk finished off the game for the Redskins, going the distance in the 12-7 win. Even though the sophomore got the big victory, he had to throw 143 pitches in doing so, which could be a concern for such a young pitcher.
"I've thrown a lot of pitches in the past," Smyk said. "My arm doesn't feel too good right now, but a win is a win for me."
The Redskins continue their three-game series with the Spartans on Tuesday in Sycamore.