DeKALB – Above anything else, Jake Howells just wants to see a little consistency from the DeKalb baseball team.
"It's like one day we'll hit, the next day we'll pitch," the Barbs coach said after Monday's 12-9 loss to Morris at Huntley Middle School. "Defense, you try to make consistent all the time, and that's baseball."
DeKalb dug itself a hole in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference standings, committing five errors and allowing 15 hits to a Morris team that had won only one conference game before Monday.
The Barbs (9-8-1, 3-4 NI Big 12) roared back from a 10-4 deficit in the sixth to cut the Redskins' lead to one. DeKalb batted around in the inning but stranded sophomore Patrick Aves at third and senior Matt Hoyle at second to end the inning.
Howells said he was proud of how his team battled back and got the go-ahead run to second in the sixth, but he didn't like that his team was in the position that it had to come back in the first place.
The Barbs committed back-to-back errors in the seventh, allowing the Redskins (10-11, 2-5 NI Big 12) to add two runs.
"We made five errors, and every single error we made cost us a run, either on the play or that guy came around to score," he said. "So when you put together  hits and five errors, it's no wonder you gave up 12 runs."
DeKalb starter Corey Nelson cruised into the third before allowing six straight Redskins to reach base, all with two outs. Morris third baseman Greg Struck got the scoring started with an RBI double. He scored four runs and had three hits.
"We were 1-5, so it's good to get a win, in the first game, on the road," Struck said. "Because now they have to go back to our place and beat us. Our bats really came alive today. Everybody was hitting the ball in big spots."
Morris coach Todd Kein said he liked the aggressiveness he saw from his team against Nelson, often swinging at the first pitch in the zone.
"We're not a team that's going to contain the other team's offense more times than not," Kein said. "We do give up runs. So we need to come out and score a little bit just to chalk up the wins."
With four losses already in conference play, Howells said the Barbs likely would have to win seven of the final eight conference games or even run the table to have a chance at a conference title.
"I've seen crazier things," Howells said. "But also, I don't want to paint the picture that if we lose [today] and we're out of the conference race, that the season's over with. There's a lot to play for every day. "