MORRIS – There were two left-handed pitchers on their games and plenty of missed opportunities to go around Friday at the Morris Community High School baseball field.
Morris senior Nick Evola was a bit better than his Oswego counterpart, Blake Sempetrean, as the Redskins edged the Panthers, 1-0, in nonconference play. The teams already had combined to leave 15 runners stranded on base, including 10 in scoring position, when Morris finally scored in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Tom Cheshareck led off the Morris (15-7) sixth with a single, and a Tim Smyk bunt advanced pinch-runner Justin McTague to second base. McTague got to third on a wild pitch, as Grant Schluntz was drawing a walk. Trevor Lines hit a fly ball to center deep enough for McTague to score.
“It was an old-fashioned pitchers duel,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “We had opportunities early, and we whacked the ball around so much at DeKalb (in a 15-3 win) last night, I think our guys are smart enough to understand duplicating that kind of production day in and day out, it’s just against the baseball numbers.”
The Panthers (6-13) had loaded the bases and failed to score in the fifth inning and again in the sixth. After a two-out walk in the fifth, Evola coaxed an inning-ending fielder’s choice groundout. He walked the bases loaded the next inning, but a well-struck fly ball by Oswego No. 9 hitter Dominick Lukowski found the glove of Morris left fielder Tyler Bordner for the third out.
“That’s been our season,” Oswego coach Mark Johnson said. “We’ve gotten runners on all season, and we don’t come up with the big hit.”
Evola allowed the Panthers no such opportunities in the seventh, although he did hit Mitch Wilson with a pitch with two outs. Tim Smyk made a running catch on a popup in foul territory to end the game one batter later.
“I knew we were going to hold them,” Evola said. “I have great confidence and faith in my defense to get us there.”
Oswego was limited to two hits by Evola, who walked six, struck out six and hit a pair of batters. He threw 133 pitches, 76 of which were strikes.
“He’s always had the longevity, as you’d expect out of his type of left-handed approach that he has,” Kein said of Evola. “We weren’t entirely sure how things were going to go, like I said, because he hasn’t come back on three days’ rest. With that in mind, I thought he did an outstanding job. What a gutsy performance. I give the kid all the credit in the world. He’s had some great outings this year. That one might take the cake.”
Sempetrean (1-1 this season) allowed five hits but had three walks and no hit batters, striking out four in his six innings. Lines, who was 2 for 2, was the only player with multiple hits.