MORRIS — ;During the course of a baseball season, a team is going to have its share of ups and downs. For the Morris baseball team, the last three games have trended toward the down cycle, with Monday's 5-1 loss to Sycamore open the Northern Illinois Big 12 season extending a losing streak to three.
Even with the loss, there were bright spots that coach Todd Kein could pick out. One of those came in the form of sophomore starting pitcher Jacob Overbeck, who suffered the loss but earned the praise of his coach.
"Jacob threw well," Kein said. "He goes out there and he competes, each and every time he pitches. And he's the youngest pitcher we have.
"We knew coming in that Sycamore always puts the ball in play hard. They have done that for years and years. You know you are going to give up three, four, five runs every time you play them. It's just the way they play. Their outs are productive and they make you make plays."
The game began with Sycamore's Logan Riley reaching second on a throwing error on a ball hit to short. Zach Carlsen followed with a walk and winning pitcher Jack Mizgalski singled to right to load the bases. Another singe by James Marcinkowski scored Riley for a 1-0 lead before anyone was out and the bases were still loaded. Overbeck then induced Tyler Didio to ground into a double play to second, scoring Carlsen, before striking out Jacob Cavanaugh to end the threat.
It was one of those half-innings that had a bright and dark side for each team.
"We shouldn't have been in that situation to begin with because of the error and the walk to the first two guys," Kein said. "But to get out of bases loaded and nobody out with only two runs is pretty good. We could have been looking at a four or five-run inning there."
"We would have liked to tack on a few more there," Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said. "But, giving a pitcher like Jack [Mizgalski] two runs before he even takes the mound is a pretty good way to start a game."
Mizgalski made sure the lead held up, mixing up his fastball and breaking pitches effectively and throwing both for strikes. He finished with nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings before giving way to Carlsen in the sixth.
"Their kid knows how to pitch," Kein said. "We knew he would pepper the strike zone, so our game plan was to come out swinging. Unfortunately, we didn't always stick with the game plan and we fell behind too often. And you can't fall behind a veteran guy like that and expect to be successful."
Morris (9-6, 0-1) got a run back in the bottom of the second. Michael Metesh led off with a singe and went to second on a wild pitch. A grounder to second by Tyler Dunne moved him to third and, after an error and a popup, Dylan Callahan singled through the middle to score Metesh and make it 2-1. In the bottom of the third, Danny Borgstrom, who had two of Morris' seven hits, reached on an error. He went to third on an infield single by Kam Dransfeldt when the throw to first went awry, but was called out at home trying to score on a wild pitch.
"It looked to me like he scored," Kein said. "But, you can't just look at one play. We had plenty of other chances to score and we didn't get the hit we needed."
Sycamore added three insurance runs in the top of the fifth, getting RBI singles by Mizgalski and Gage Armstrong and a sacrifice fly by Jacob Cavanaugh.
Trailing 5-1, Morris loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Carlsen got a grounder back to him for a force at home and a grounder to short to end the game.
The two teams return to action Tuesday at Sycamore before returning to Morris on Thursday to complete the three-game series.