WILMINGTON — Strike fast, hold ground and finish strong.
That was the way the game went for the Morris Redskins on Wednesday at Wilmington in a non-conference baseball game against the Wildcats.
The locals scored six times in the first, weathered four unanswered runs by the hosts, then hit the accelerator on offense in scoring seven times in the fifth and sixth innings en route to a 13-6 win.
"We picked up right where we left off against Ottawa. It's nice to get that kind of start," Morris third baseman/pitcher Christian Niewinski said. "It takes a lot of pressure off the team. We're a team that is going to put the ball in play and we're going to do whatever it takes to win the game."
Morris enjoyed a slick come-from behind win at Ottawa on Wednesday, which is what Niewinski was referring to. However, Morris coach Todd Kein said that coming out and scoring heavy like that early in a game isn't always the best thing for a team.
"It's either a blessing or a curse when you do that. It's always nice to see the team come out and hit like that, but I thought we had opportunities in the middle innings that we did not capitalize on," he said. "I was happy with the way we hit the ball later in the game. They kept their focus and put together quality at-bats. We were able to hit the ball on the nose a majority of the time."
In the Morris first, Jason Matteson was hit by a pitch to start things and Austin Conrod followed that with an infield single. Grant Davis walked to load the bases and Grant Schluntz reached on a fielder's choice to forced Matteson at the plate. After the second out, Jake Capko walked to force in a run and Trevor Lines ripped a two-RBI single. Preston Miracle then walked and Niewinski singled home Lines. Matteson then doubled to plate Miracle with the final run of the inning.
As Kein pointed out, though, Morris was then held in check by Wilmington pitcher J.D. Hale for the next three innings while the Wildcat bats warmed up to Redskins starter Drew Aldrich. Aldrich went 3 2/3 innings and ended up stranding five runners before being lifted in favor of Niewinski. When Niewinski entered, Wilmington had the bases loaded with two out — certainly not an easy situation to relieve in.
"That's what I told him when he came into the game. That he was not coming into an easy situation there," Kein said. "But it is what it is and he was able to come in, get a fly ball and did the job. I think that was a confidence builder there. I was happy with the way he threw. He did exactly what we needed."
Niewinski said that he was aware he may be called into the game a half inning before while the Redskins were batting.
"It was whenever Drew started getting into trouble with his location. The coaches were letting him work into and out of trouble today and he did a good job of limiting the damage out there. He stranded a lot of runners," Niewinski said.
Morris sealed the victory with five runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth. In the fifth, Miracle singled, Niewinski was hit by a pitched ball, Matteson had an RBI double, Conrod an RBI single, Davis an RBI single and Schluntz a two RBI single. In the sixth, Lines singled, Miracle doubled Conrod walked and Davis reached on an error, which allowed the two runs to score.
On the mound, Niewinski ended up going 3 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one unearned run.
Morris did turn three double plays on the day, but it also committed three errors.
"We were spotty," Kein said of his defense. "We made some big plays today, but we also had some hiccups. There are certainly some things there that need to be cleaned up before the start of conference play."
The start of Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East play is Monday against Yorkville. In the meantime, the Redskins wrap up non-conference play on Saturday in an NIB12E crossover game against Geneva starting at 11 a.m. It is a game in which Morris will try to build on to its 8-1 start to the season.
"It feels great. We know that the conference is pretty good this year and we needed a good start for our confidence," Niewinski said. "We feel that we are ready for next week."