MORRIS – Heading into Monday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 game against Yorkville, the Morris baseball team held its destiny in its own hands. The Redskins, with a 10-4 league record, could assure themselves of at least a tie for the conference title with a win. Yorkville, 10-3 coming in, still has a game to play against Sycamore on Tuesday.
Senior lefty Nick Evola was staked to a 1-0 lead after an inning, but Yorkville was able to get on the board with a run in the third, then scored two in the fifth. That’s the way the game ended, as Yorkville won, 3-1, behind a complete-game performance by Nick Sewruk, claiming the conference title.
Not that the Redskins (24-9, 10-5) didn’t have their chances. They had the bases loaded with one out in the second. Catcher Geno Persico grounded a ball to second, and Yorkville second baseman Zack Aloisio flipped to shortstop Sam Flamini for the force. Flamini’s return throw and Persico seemed to arrive at the same time, but Persico was called out for a double play to end the inning instead of safe and a Morris run scoring with the top of the order due up.
“We’ve been around enough to know that close calls happen,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “They are just a part of baseball. There were some close calls that went our way, too, so we aren’t going to dwell on that one.
“We’ve been on a good roll these last eight or nine games where everything has been clicking real well for us. Tonight, we just didn’t get that timely hit that we seemed to get the last couple of weeks.”
Morris got on the board quickly. After Evola held Yorkville scoreless, Kyle Hill led off the Morris first with a single and went to second on an errant pickoff throw. Austin Conrod sacrificed him to third, and Trevor Lines drove him in with an RBI single. The Redskins threatened to break it open in the second before the double play, then didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the fifth.
In the fifth, Matt Bernickus led off with a single and went to second on a throwing error on a ball hit by Grant Schluntz. Both runners were stranded, though, as Sewruk got a strikeout, a fly to center and a grounder to second.
Meanwhile, Yorkville scored on a wild pitch in the third and added a pair of runs in the fifth. Flamini doubled home Michael Guddendorf, who had walked, and scored on a single by A.J. Foster.
Evola went 52⁄3 innings, allowing six hits and three walks. He hit two batters and struck out three.
“We were bound to run into a game like this,” Kein said. “Some of our flaws were exposed and maybe we use that as a wake-up call. If we can turn the adversity we faced in tonight’s game into some experience that helps us win a regional title on our home field, then we’ll take that trade off.
“There are a few other conference games we’d like to have back, too, so we can’t just look at this one. Going 10-5 in our side of the conference is nothing to feel bad about. We’ll know about our team when we see how we respond to adversity. You have to have a short memory in this game.”
Morris had seven hits on the night. Tim Smyk had a double among his two hits, with Hill, Lines, Tyler Bordner, Bernickus and Tom Cheshareck all adding singles.