CRESTWOOD – It was the inning that felt like it was never going to end.
Morris knew it would have to be as sharp as a tack to have a chance against a powerful St. Laurence team in the Class 3A St. Laurence Sectional semifinal on Wednesday afternoon. The game was played at Ozinga Field in Crestwood.
St. Laurence was too much for Morris in a dominating 15-2 win and advances to Saturday’s sectional title game, while Morris closes out an excellent season with a 25-9 record.
Things started fine for Morris as starter Luke Olbrot worked quickly through the Vikings’ lineup in the first inning on only 12 pitches.
Then, the offense took its turn and immediately made an impression. Morris leadoff hitter Cole Laurie took the first pitch he saw from St. Laurence pitcher Chris Seropian and drove it over the rightfielder’s head for a double.
Matt Lopez followed with a single that couldn’t quite score Laurie, but Morris appeared to be in business. But the Vikings’ defense squelched what could have been a significant rally by turning a double play. It did allow Laurie to score, however, and Morris had a 1-0 lead.
Olbrot moved quickly through the second, as well, helped along by a liner that turned into a double play after Vito Valicunis singled to start the inning for the Vikings.
Morris appeared to have something brewing in the second, as the first two batters reached, but Seropian showed resolve by striking out the next three batters.
But then came the third inning.
In a confluence of bad things that seemed to happen to Morris in a sequence that couldn’t even be stopped or even slightly contained, St. Laurence went to work, basically dismantling Morris not only with potent hitting, but also capitalizing on every inch that Morris was giving them.
In the end, St. Laurence sent 18 batters to the plate, scoring 13 runs on eight hits, five walks and four defensive errors.
“Things did snowball. And we do some uncharacteristic things that everybody is just stunned by, because that hasn’t been us,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “We don’t have the kind of success that we did with those types of things happening in the field. Those were just anomalies to us. But that’s to their credit. They put the pressure on us. When they are swinging the bat, they are tough and you mix it with the defensive lapses that we had. That’s not a good recipe.”
Morris scratched out its other run in the fifth after Logan Edwards singled and came around to score.
In the end, all Kein could do was tip his cap to St. Laurence, a team many feel is the favorite to win the Class 3A title.
“They are an oustanding program,” Kein said. “There was no way to escape the David and Goliath coming into this game. That’s just the reality of it. Our job was to embrace that role and try to thrive in it. And they are the type of team, that once they get that open door, they very rarely choose not to step through it.”