The Morris Redskins opened up Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference play on Monday night and fell to 9-2 on the season with a 4-1 loss at the hand of the Yorkville Foxes.
It was a rough day at the plate for the Redskins, as they stranded nine runners and only managed one run on seven hits against Yorkville ace Brett Assell. The senior left-hander, who was an All-(NIB12) Conference performer in 2012, pitched a complete game for the Foxes and struck out four on his way to the win.
“He’s the type of pitcher that does not allow opposing hitters to be comfortable,” Morris head coach Todd Kein said. “He has confidence with every single pitch no matter what the count is, and crafty doesn’t really do justice to what he can do out there. We knew it would be a challenge with him on the mound.
“With the offense that we’ve been putting up so far this year, we were confident on our side too as long as we took the right approach. Unfortunately, I thought we took the right approach in spots today but it wasn’t consistent throughout the game.”
The Redskins countered with their ace, Tim Smyk, and Yorkville was able to touch the junior up for a trio of runs in the first two innings.
In the top of the first inning, Yorkville started off the scoring when sophomore shortstop Sam Flamini turned around a 2-0 fastball from Smyk and sent it over the fence in left-center for a solo home run. In the second inning, the Foxes pushed across a couple more runs to advance the Yorkville lead.
Morris responded in their half of the inning with a run of its own on one-out RBI double by junior Trevor Lines. However, Morris would go on to strand runners at second and third after back-to-back swinging strikeouts ended the inning.
Morris would go on to strand five runners in scoring position on the night.
“It was certainly disappointing not to be able to produce in those spots,” Kein said. “We set the table about three different times and came up empty. But, all we can ask is to be provided those opportunities and then it comes down to someone coming through with a big hit.”
In the third, Smyk settled in and struck out the side. He would finish the day with six strikeouts, but also walked three batters and hit another in 4 1/3 innings before giving way to senior reliever Drew Aldrich.
When Aldrich took over for Smyk in the fifth inning, he was able to pitch out of a jam with runners on first and second. In the sixth, Aldrich would strike out a pair, but Yorkville was able to pick up an unearned insurance run when Blake Szurkowski reached on an error and pinch-runner Anthony Romano later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Overall, it was a solid performance by Aldrich out of the bullpen. The senior struck out four in 2 2/3 innings of work and gave up just the one unearned run.
“I felt pretty good. My control was a little better than it was in my last game, so that kinda helped my confidence. We didn’t get the win, but hopefully that helps me carry a little momentum into future performances,” Aldrich said.
All totaled, the Redskins pitchers would combine to strike out 10 Yorkville batters. They also gave up just six hits, with only two of those hits leaving the infield, but the Foxes were able to come up with runs in critical junctures, whereas the Redskins didn’t.
In their final trip to the plate, the Redskins were able to put their leadoff runner on base with an infield single from senior Jason Matteson, who finished 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of infield hits. Unfortunately for Morris, Matteson wound up stranded at second base as Assell closed out the shutout.
The win improved Yorkville’s record to 5-4 on the season and 1-0 in the conference while Morris dropped to 0-1 in NIB 12 East play. The two teams will square off again Tuesday in Yorkville.
On Saturday, the Morris Redskins swept a double-header against Geneseo, winning the varsity game 12-0 in five innings and beating the Maple Leafs 7-4 in the JV game.
In the varsity contest, senior left fielder Grant Davis finished the game with a walk-off grand slam that gave Morris the 10-run rule. Meanwhile, Jason Matteson went 3-for-3 with a home run of his own and a pair of RBIs. Senior Preston Miracle added a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a trio of RBIs.
On the mound, senior right-hander Bubba Henry would move to 4-0 on the season with a five inning shutout performance. Henry would allow just four hits while striking out seven on the afternoon.