MORRIS – Facing off against highly touted Kaneland sophomore Anthony Holubecki, a Notre Dame verbal commitment, Morris sophomore Matt Walker certainly entered Thursday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 East matchup between the Redskins and the Knights, as the less heralded of the two hurlers.
However, with a chance to pull one step closer to a conference title on the line, it was the Morris sophomore who emerged victorious as the Redskins cruised to a 4-1 victory over Kaneland at home.
Walker threw a complete game, scattering four singles that resulted in just one earned run while striking out five on his way to the win. It was his second varsity win in less than a week, having thrown a three-hit shutout last week against Joliet West in a tournament at LaSalle-Peru.
“I’m excited every time I pitch,” Walker said. “But this being my first conference start certainly added some more excitement to it.”
“We’ve always known that Matt has the ability, but we’ve been in a situation where our lower levels have needed him,” Morris coach Todd Kein said of the lefty. “Now we’re at a juncture in the year where we’re trying to finagle the best of both worlds.
“Coming into this game of the series, we had a decision to make and we felt that Matt was the better matchup against this Kaneland lineup, and he certainly proved tonight that he’s more than able to handle that setting.”
At the plate, it took the Redskins a trip through the lineup to get a bead on Holubecki. The righty retired the first nine Redskins he faced, striking out three before leadoff hitter Kyle Hill broke up the perfect game with a single to start the bottom of the fourth.
After a walk by Trevor Lines and an RBI single by Austin Conrod that gave Morris the 1-0 lead, senior slugger Tim Smyk lashed one into the gap to plate two more Morris runs. In the sixth, Smyk would launched a solo homer into left-center field to give Morris a 4-1 lead.
The bomb capped a 2-for-3, three RBI day for the senior, who appears to be getting hot at the right time for the Redskins.
“I got put in a few situations where [Holubecki] got down in the count, and I got to work it to my advantage and look straight fastball,” Smyk said. “Luckily, I’ve been putting together some good at bats and putting some good swings on balls lately.”
The win improved Morris to 23-8 (10-4 in conference), while Kaneland dropped to 14-12 (9-6).