MORRIS – Outs are a valuable commodity in a baseball game. The more your team can get and the fewer you give the other team usually is a key to victory.
The Morris baseball team found that out the hard way Thursday in a 7-2 loss to Kaneland on senior day. The loss ended the Northern Illinois Big 12 East portion of the Redskins' schedule with a 6-6 record.
Morris started senior Colin Kingsbury on the mound, as well as senior Nick Vejr behind the plate, senior Blake Breyman in left field and senior Matt Dinelli at first base. They were joined by regular starters Danny Borgstrom at shortstop, Jared Lines at second, Nathan Wantland in center and Payton Voitik in right. Senior Tyler Dunne, who normally plays first base, started at third.
Kingsbury retired the first seven batters he faced, helped by a sparkling defensive play at third by Dunne, who backhanded a ball hit by Kaneland's Jonathan Alstott and threw the speedy runner out at first. Tommy Shaw then singled for Kaneland and stole second before Kingsbury struck out the next hitter. Dawson Moore then relieved Kingsbury, but Shaw went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another before Moore retired Luke Gomes on a liner to Dunne at third.
The Knights took advantage of some Morris miscues in the field in the top of the fifth. With one out, Shaw reached on an error, as did Logan Piercy. Gomes hit a grounder to second, but the throw to force out Piercy was dropped, loading the bases. A wild pitch plated Shaw before a walk to Angel Acevedo loaded the bases again. Rob Dudzinski singled to center to score Piercy and Gomes before Nick Panico doubled in Acevedo for a 5-0 Kaneland lead.
"We didn't show up ready to play," Morris coach Todd Kein said. "It had nothing to do with the starting lineup or it being senior day. Something wasn't there when we showed up at the field, and that's concerning.
"We gave them three or four extra outs in that fifth inning, and you can't do that against good teams. The results speak for themselves."
Kaneland tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh before Morris rallied for a pair in the bottom half. Luke Olbrot reached on an error to lead off the inning and was forced at second on a ball hit by Chatten Dryfhout. Wantland walked and, an out later, Borgstrom singled in Dryfhout, and Alex Cameron singled in Wantland.
Before the seventh, Morris had hit into four double plays on the day, in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.
"Colin Kingsbury was a big bright spot today," Kein said. "He got a chance and he made the most of it.
"We gave them extra outs, and they got two outs on one pitch four times. That's baseball. We have to shake off the conference season and get ready for the regionals."
The Redskins host a Class 3A regional this year. They are the fourth seed in the subsectional that feeds into the Ottawa Sectional. They play sixth-seeded Ottawa on Thursday, May 24. On Wednesday, May 23, top-seeded Joliet Catholic Academy will play the winner of Monday's game between No. 8 Kankakee and No. 7 LaSalle-Peru. The Wednesday and Thursday winners will play at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 26, for the championship.