Friday, June 14, 2024

Class 3A baseball: Morris tops Ottawa 10-0 in five innings for regional title

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LA SALLE — Both Morris coach Todd Kein and Ottawa skipper Tyler Wargo felt the very first inning of Saturday’s Class 3A La Salle-Peru Regional championship set the tone for the rest of the contest.

The Pirates’ first two batters reached base but were unable to score, while Morris plated a pair of runs to truly cease the momentum.

Morris (26-3) then erupted for six runs in the third and eventually went on to record a 10-0 victory in five innings over Ottawa (16-20) to earn a 16th consecutive triumph and the regional title plaque for the first time since 2019.

Morris advances to the Washington Sectional where it will play the host Panthers at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

In the Ottawa first, Jace Veith led off with a single and Lucas Farabaugh drew a walk off Morris starting and winning pitcher Brett Bounds. Adam Swanson then lined a hard out to left before Bounds induced a double play to end the threat.

“The early key for us today was our defense in the first inning,” Kein said. “We were able to get that double play to help Brett grind out of things. He’d be the first to tell you first innings have been a struggle for him on the mound at times this season. But like he has all season, he settled in to start the second and pitched four solid innings to keep Ottawa off the board.

“I also think getting those two runs in our first inning really helped our kids relax and just play the game.”

“I’m just glad I could help my team win today. My defense played solid behind me.”

—  Brett Bounds, Morris junior pitcher

In Morris’ first at-bat, Mounds poked a one-out single off Ottawa starter Adam Swanson (Loss, 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) before Jack Wheeler lined a triple into the left-centerfield gap. Cody DelFavero then scored Wheeler with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 2-0.

“Great start for us, first two guys up get on and Adam smokes a ball that if it gets down we’re on top right away. Who knows from there, but it didn’t happen,” Wargo said. “I felt like we let the top of the first with not scoring get to us a little bit, but it’s tough when you know you’re probably going to have some things go your way against a really solid team in a one-or-done game.

“To be honest, we really weren’t good in any facet of the game of baseball today. That’s rarely going to win regular games, but never championship games. The third inning we had a few problems in the field, not getting outs we should have and all of a sudden it went from down two to down eight.

“We deserved to be in this game, and I wished we played better, but hopefully in the years to come we get a chance again and things work out in our favor.”

Morris broke the game open in the third as Bounds hit a sac fly before an error and a DelFavero RBI triple to center made it 5-0. Griffin Zweeres then coaxed a walk, which was followed by a two-run triple by Merek Klicker. AJ Zweeres was later hit by a pitch with the bases full to make it 8-0.

Morris plated two in the fourth off Ottawa reliever Alex Billings as DelFavero hit an RBI groundout and Nazim Baftiri was plunked with the bases loaded.

Meanwhile, Bounds finished the day firing 43 of his 65 pitches for strikes, while allowing just a pair of hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

“Coach (Kein) is right, opening innings have been a little tough for me,” Bounds said. “I haven’t figured out why, but it just takes me an inning to settle in. It was a big momentum swing for us to get out of the top of the first with no runs and then get two of our own.

“My out pitch was my changeup today. I was able to throw them toward the outside corner of the plate and got a couple strikeouts and a bunch of ground balls. Overall, I felt like I was consistent with all four of my pitches, but when I really needed a strike, I was going with my changeup.

“I’m just glad I could help my team win today. My defense played solid behind me.”

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