COAL CITY — To this point, cold and wet weather has marred the spring sports season thus far in Illinois. On Saturday afternoon, the Morris Redskins and Coal City Coalers got another blustery, frigid day to contend with for a non-conference baseball matchup, and the Redskins were able to outlast the Coalers on their way to an 8-3 win in Coal City.
It was senior right-handed starter Preston Miracle who stole the show for Morris, as he went six innings while striking out 13 batters and giving up just one run on his way to the victory. He also contributed a 2-for-3 day at the plate with an RBI double and a run scored.
The win put Miracle’s ledger at 3-0 for the season but ultimately helped Miracle feel like he had gotten back into the swing of baseball season after battling some minor control issues and plate struggles in previous starts.
“I felt great. I just really wanted to go out there and try to do everything right, just throw strikes, and get our team into a rhythm as soon as possible,” Miracle said.
After starting off the day by giving up a double, an infield single and a bunt single to Coal City’s first three batters, but coming away without giving up a run, it appeared that Miracle really settled in. He scattered just four hits from that point forward and gave up the one run in the third on an RBI single by Nate Natyshok that scored leadoff hitter Austin McLuckie.
McLuckie would pace the Coalers on the day, going 2-for-3 and scoring two of the Coalers’ three runs.
Meanwhile, Miracle would go on to strike out the side in the second and the fourth innings and got five Coalers to go down looking with a sharp backdoor breaking ball. At the plate, he also got the scoring started for Morris in the second inning when he laced a double into the right-centerfield gap that scurried to the wall and scored second baseman Matt Bernickus.
“I think (the way Miracle played) was a tremendous confidence lift for him personally, but it’s also a lift for our team,” Morris head coach Todd Kein said. “He’d be the first to admit that he’s struggled at times offensively. We preach hitting being a contagious thing, so to have Preston come out here and pitch as well as he did and then carry that over into the batter’s box and spray it around out there, I think that helps our team’s mentality.”
Coal City would tie the game in the third inning with the aforementioned Natyshok single, but the Redskins would pull away again in the fourth. They pushed across four runs in the inning and jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Senior outfielder Jason Matteson had his lone RBI of the day in that inning and wound up going 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored, too.
The Coalers would eventually have their chances to get back into the ballgame, loading the bases in the fourth and the sixth, but they came up empty on both occasions.
“We were at the bottom of the lineup both times (we loaded the bases), and like I say, ‘Just put it in play. Anything you can do to get on base.’ We didn’t do that,” Coal City head coach Jerry McDowell said. “Even a pop-up, on a day like today with the wind blowing, has a chance, and you’ve got to just give yourself that chance and we didn’t give ourselves those opportunities today.”
Morris would add a couple more runs in the sixth inning and another in the seventh to give themselves seven runs of insurance heading into Coal City’s final at-bat. The Coalers would push across a pair of runs against relief pitcher Drew Aldrich, but Aldrich was able to preserve the 8-3 lead for the Morris win.
The win improved Morris to 11-3 on the season, while the lost dropped Coal City to 2-5-1.