Baseball: Morris takes home opener vs. Sandwich

Redskins improve to 2-0 on season with win

MORRIS – For the first time in nearly two years, the Morris baseball team played a game on its own field Thursday.

The Redskins enjoyed the home-field advantage and picked up their second win in as many days, topping Interstate 8 Conference rival Sandwich, 7-2. On Wednesday, Morris traveled to Sandwich and came away with a 12-0 win.

It wasn’t easy for Morris in the early going, as Sandwich loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first. However, starter Colin Cummings induced a grounder to Ryan Fischer at third, who fired to Nick Gomoll at second, and Gomoll’s relay to first was in time for the double play.

After being held scoreless in the bottom of the first, Morris (2-0, 2-0) got the bats going in the second. Parker Skubic led off with a walk and singles by Matt Lawton, and Gomoll followed to load the bases. Bryce Quevedo delivered an RBI single to score Skubic. An out later, Nathan Jepson ripped a two-run single to left for a 3-0 Morris lead.

Sandwich (0-2, 0-2) answered in the top of the third, when Sam Palumbo slugged a two-run homer to left, scoring teammate Chance Lange, who had walked.

That was all the scoring for the Indians, though. If fact, it was their last hit, as Cummings retired the next eight batters he faced before being removed after five innings. Cummings allowed two hits, three walks and hit a batter while striking out five. Reliever Brennan Johnson allowed a runner when Palumbo reached on an error to lead off the sixth, but Johnson struck out two of the next three batters he faced before Ryan Fischer came on in the seventh and struck out the side.

“We have a real young team,” Sandwich coach Jason Van Pelt said. “It is going to take us a little while to get used to varsity pitching. We had some good approaches at the plate, though, and we will continue to get better as the year goes on.”

Morris tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Quevedo led off with a walk and stole second. With two outs, he came around to score on an error on a ball hit by Owen Burns. Cody Bledsoe then doubled home courtesy runner Grayson Weber to put Morris ahead, 5-2. The Redskins capped the scoring in the bottom of the sixth. Quevedo led off with an infield single and was bunted to second by Aidan Romak. Jepson was hit by a pitch and a wild pitch moved both runners up a base. An out later, Bledsoe was intentionally walked to load the bases. Fischer was hit by a pitch to bring home Quevedo, and a wild pitch allowed Jepson to score the final run.

“The big win Wednesday gave us a confidence boost,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “To Sandwich’s credit, they came out and got some runners on right away, but Ryan Fischer started a nice double play to get us out of it. Our offensive approach was questionable at times, but 90% of our roster had zero varsity experience before yesterday.

“Colin Cummings settled down and threw well, and the two relievers – Johnson and Fischer – came in and shut the door. Nathan Jepson has played well so far. He would have been one of our top juniors last year. He is consistent at the plate and has been smooth at short.”

Rob Oesterle

Rob has been a sports writer for the Morris Herald-News and Joliet Herald-News for more than 20 years. He is currently also writing news for the Morris Herald-News.