Baseball: DelFavero sparks decisive rally for Morris

Junior doubles twice in huge fifth inning to send Morris past La Salle-Peru in 3A regional semifinal

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MORRIS – It took awhile for the momentum to shift for the Morris baseball team. But Cody DelFavero was the linchpin in Morris’ come-from-behind 9-5 victory over La Salle-Peru on Wednesday in the Class 3A Morris Regional semifinal game between the Interstate 8 Conference rivals.

Seemingly dead in the water with no runs and only three hits, No. 1-seeded Morris turned to DelFavero in the bottom of the fifth to start and end a seven-run rally in the inning. The junior led off with a double and ended the uprising with another two-base hit that helped lead his team to victory.

“Two doubles in one inning doesn’t happen that much for me, so it feels great – and it’s awesome to know I was able to contribute to a big rally that pushed us through a tough game and kept us moving forward in the postseason,” DelFavero said.

Morris (26-4) advances to the regional championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday against either No. 4-seeded Rock Island or No. 5 Ottawa, which will play Thursday for the right to take on the hosts.

Morris will be seeking its 11th regional championship in program history, and first since 2019.

“We’ve shown we can score runs all year long, and give credit to L-P and their pitcher [Mason] Lynch who came at us, was effective through four innings and had us off-balance a bit,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “But eventually we woke up and we were able to put the ball in play and put together a great inning that went our way.”

L-P (12-18) concluded its season with Lynch (4 1/3 IP, 5 R, 8 H, 4 K, 2 BB) tossing a gem until the fifth before the Morris bats heated up with the spark from DelFavero.

“Their bats came alive, and Morris is a great ballclub, so to come here on their home field and have them on the ropes for awhile made me really proud of our kids,” L-P coach Matt Glupczynski said. “We’re a young team and we’ve got a lot of talent coming back next year, and I’m very excited for our future.”

The Cavaliers touched Morris sophomore starter Brett Bounds (4-0, 5 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 7 K, 1 BB) with the game’s first run in the top of the third.

Seth Adams reached on an error, stole second base, and scored when Billy Mini (3 hits, 3 RBI) stroked a run-scoring single to left that gave L-P a 1-0 lead.

The Cavs added two more runs in the top of the fifth to go up 3-0. Adams led off with a double, went to third on Mini’s single to right, then scored on Brendan Boudrea’s run scoring infield hit. Mini eventually came home on a wild pitch as L-P was in command after 4 1/2 innings.

But Morris sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning against Lynch and relief pitcher Mini, as DelFavero led off with a slicing left-handed stroke down the left-field line. Run-scoring at-bats quickly followed from Caston Norris, Will Knapp (2 hits), A.J. Zweeres (2 hits), Griffin Zweeres and Ximi Baftiri before DelFavero capped the seven-run onslaught with a booming two-run double to the fence in right-center that put Morris ahead 7-3 after five innings.

“It was a 3-2 count, and I knew I had to get the ball on the ground or in the air, and I hit it pretty good,” DelFavero said. “It felt really great for us to get back on top after not being able to get much going offensively before a big rally like that.”

L-P countered with two runs in the top of the sixth off DelFavero, who came on in relief of Bounds. Mini stroked a two-run double down the line in left that cut the Morris lead to 7-5 before the home team got both of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth after an unearned run and RBI single from Jack Wheeler (2 hits) to put Morris ahead 9-5.

All that was left was for DelFavero to earn his second save of the season by facing four batters in the seventh.

“It’s exciting the way this game played out for me and for all of us,” DelFavero said. “Now we’ve got to keep things going because we believe there’s more great things ahead of us for sure.”

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky is an award-winning sports journalist and the recipient of the Illinois Coaches Association 2016 Sportsperson of the Year Award for his softball expertise and coverage.