MORRIS — One of the shortcomings of last year's Morris baseball season was the timely hit. It seemed like the Redskins had no problems getting runners on base, but getting that hit to bring the runners home eluded them.
If Saturday's season-opening 8-5 win over Bradley-Bourbonnais is any indication, however, the Redskins may be on their way to getting over that hump.
Morris (1-0) went down in order in the bottom of the first, but then proceeded to score at least a run in each of its next five innings en route to the victory. The Redskins collected 12 hits, two each by Jared Lines, Danny Borgstrom, Kam Dransfeldt, Andy Peters and Tyler Dunne. Ben Larson and Payton Voitik each had a double for their line hit, and Dransfeldt also hit a double, which was the first Morris hit of the season, leading off the bottom of the second.
"We hit up and down the lineup," Morris coach Todd Kein said. "It wasn't just one little pocket of guys getting the hits, which was good to see. I thought that a lot of the kids that were sophomores last year and have a year under their belts looked a lot more comfortable at the plate today. That's the thing about us this year. On paper, we look like a young team, but a lot of these juniors that we are starting were up with the varsity last year and have a year's worth of experience."
Take Dransfeldt, for example.
The junior catcher, hitting in the cleanup spot, led off the second inning with a ringing double to right. He later added an infield single and, had the baseball gods been a little kinder to him, he would have finished the day with four hits. In his third at-bat, he lined a ball to center, but the base umpire called a balk just before he swung, making the play dead. In his final at bat, with a runner on first attempting to steal, he hit a sharp grounder up the middle, but the Bradley-Bourbonnais second baseman was literally standing on second base to field it for the force out.
"Kam's in the four spot for us for a reason," Kein said. "He makes good, solid contact almost every time and you saw that today."
One thing that Kein and every area coach will have to contend with is the new IHSA laws governing pitch count and how many pitches a pitcher can throw on a given day against how long they must wait to come back and pitch again. That's why starting pitcher Peters threw only three innings and got pulled two batters into the fourth. He was at 72 pitches. Three more and would have had to have an extra day off, so Jacob Overbeck was called on in relief. Besides Overbeck, Dawson Moore and Nathan Wantland also saw time on the mound.
Peters, one of just three seniors in the Morris starting lineup, allowed just two hits in his three-plus innings of work, but walks were his nemesis. He issued six free passes, but also struck out six and the other three outs were on balls hit back to him on the mound.
"I wasn't able to locate my fastball like I wanted," Peters said. "But, I definitely went out there with a lot of confidence because I know our guys will be able to hit and score some runs for us. We have been working hard in practice and it paid off today."