When you’re trailing a 9-1 team by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, it’s not exactly commonplace to call yourselves confident. However, having come back from a five-run deficit as recently as Saturday, the Morris Redskins varsity baseball team had to have at least felt capable Wednesday night against the visiting Sycamore Spartans.
They trailed by a score of 2-0 with just three outs left to play, but after getting blanked for six innings, they were able to produce another stunning comeback that finished in a 3-2 victory for the Redskins.
“Not only is a game like this a confidence boost, but, hopefully, it takes a little bit of weight off our shoulders going into games two and three [of the series],” Morris coach Todd Kein said.
Sycamore got to Morris starting pitcher Nick Evola early, plating a pair of runs off the senior left-hander in the top of the first to grab the early lead. However, Evola settled in nicely after that.
Working a solid breaking ball early in the count and locating a sneaky fastball, Evola scattered five harmless singles after that tough first inning, while striking out eight Spartans. He’d go on to earn the win.
“As I tossed him the game ball, I told him I thought he pitched a phenomenal baseball game,” Kein said. “I don’t think the general fan in attendance today realizes just how strong of a team Sycamore is, and to keep them at bay the way he did, was outstanding.”
At the plate, Morris was able to threaten on multiple occasions through the first six innings, but were unable to push anyone across as they stranded six runners (half of which were in scoring position).
However, in the seventh, they finally got it going.
Senior Grant Schluntz hit a one-out double to left field, before catcher Geno Persico laced a single down the line past the third baseman to plate the first run. A walk and a wild pitch later, Trevor Lines’ RBI groundout to first tied the game at two.
With two outs and a runner on third, it was No. 3 hitter Austin Conrod’s turn to come through in a big spot. The speedy lefty was quick out of the box on a slow-roller to short that he would beat out. The walk-off was his third hit of the day.
“It’s a huge confidence boost for our team, but at the same time we need to get the bats going at the beginning so we cannot relax, but not have to worry about, ‘Oh we need to score, we need to score,’ ” Conrod said.