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Morris baseball claims opener from DeKalb

The sun peaked out of the sky, and although the field was soft from the last week’s worth of rain, there was baseball in Morris on Wednesday night as the Runnin’ Redskins played host to the DeKalb Barbs in Northern Illinois Big 12 East action. The Redskins were able to improve to 13-5 on the year with an 8-0 shutout victory.

Junior aces Tim Smyk and John Crosby matched up for Morris and DeKalb, respectively, and Smyk was able to come away with the win after tossing five innings of one-hit baseball. It was Smyk’s first time on the mound in nine days, but the right-hander showed no signs of rust.

“I felt great. Today — unlike in some of my other starts — I felt like I hit my spots more often, and that’s what will get you good results,” Smyk said.

After trading zeros in the first inning, the Redskins were able to jump out to a 3-0 lead in their half of the second. Morris loaded the bases with no outs and a walk by right fielder Austin Conrod drove in the first run while a sac fly by Jason Matteson pushed across the second. A wild pitch scored second baseman Matt Bernickus for the third.

In the third inning, the Redskins were able to get to Crosby again when junior Trevor Lines led off with a single and stole a base before being driven in by senior Preston Miracle on an RBI single. Miracle would finish the day 3-for-4 with a double off the wall, two RBI, a stolen base and a run scored as he continued his hot streak at the plate.

“I’m just happy that we were able to slide (Miracle) back into the four-slot, which is a place that he’s always been comfortable,” Morris head coach Todd Kein said of Miracle’s recent output at the plate. “It’s nice to see him back in the spot and producing the way he expects himself to produce. As I’ve said before, as he goes we go, sometimes, as a team and I think you saw a little bit of that today.”

After Miracle’s single, a walk to designated hitter Grant Davis would prompt Crosby’s exit, and the Redskins would put another run on the board to give Morris a 5-0 lead through three innings.

Meanwhile, Smyk continued to cruise on the mound with the help of some solid defense from the Redskins. Morris made no errors on the afternoon and catcher Jake Capko cut down a pair of runners trying to steal while Bernickus made an impressive diving stop and throw from second.

“If you match (the way we played defensively) with the way we hit and Tim Smyk’s performance on the mound, it’s a great recipe for success for us,” Kein said. “We were clicking on all cylinders today.”

The Redskins would have a bit of a scare in the fifth inning with Smyk on the mound. With runners on first and second and one out, DeKalb senior outfielder and pitcher Ryan Metsker sent a shot back up the middle that hit Smyk in the leg. Smyk was able to make the play at first and would finish the inning with a strikeout to keep the shutout intact, but he’d give way to senior relief pitcher Drew Aldrich after that.

“Ya, it’s a little sore and once I sat down it got a little stiff, but now that I’m walking around a little bit more and getting the blood flowing it’s not that bad,” Smyk said.

With Aldrich in the game, Morris was able to push across a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave them an 8-0 lead, and Aldrich was able to keep it that way for the Redskins. The loss dropped DeKalb to 6-9 on the season.

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