By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON, Ill. — As Fulton baseball coach Kyle Miller put it after losing both games to Morrison on Monday, the losses were tough to swallow, but all the Steamers could do afterward was tip their hats toward the Mustangs.
Morrison won 1-0, then 11-4 in the nightcap.
“We all kind of struggled at the plate against (Joey) Brackemyer,” Miller said, referring to the opener. “He’s one of the better pitchers in the league, and today, he certainly showed it.”
Brackemyer went the distance for the Mustangs, throwing 117 pitches, 70 of them strikes.
Brackemyer had to sweat a little in the bottom of the seventh inning, however. Jake Vanzuiden led off with a single to right field, which was the Steamers’ third hit of the night.
At that point, the Steamers were trying to wear down Brackemyer, who surpassed the 100-pitch mark in the preceding inning.
However, Cody Huff swung on the first pitch and hit the ball to shortstop, where Morrison tried to turn a double play but could not. Huff reached safely with one out.
Jack Lemke then walked with two outs, giving Tyler Sweenie a chance to be the hero on Wounded Warrior Night. Despite forcing a seven-pitch at-bat, Sweenie struck out swinging to end the game.
“Our hits will come,” Miller said. “I hate to say it at this point, but we’ll find a way to score. It was frustrating to not scrape together more runs.”
Meanwhile, Brackemyer was responsible for starting the Mustangs’ rally in the top half of the seventh.
Justin Jensen brought in Brackemyer on a single after Brackemyer stole third base on the previous pitch.
“We were looking for guys to execute and we did,” Morrison coach Ben Sondergroth said. “Jensen came up there, and he’s only a sophomore, and he stepped up, and I’m glad we executed down the stretch.
“It was good for a young team like us to win a game like this.”
There was more offensive firepower in Game 2 for both teams, but the Mustangs mustered more opportunities than Fulton.
“Their balls were finding the gaps, and we were hitting well, but they were going right to people,” Miller said.
Miller also attributed the second loss to a short army of pitching with ace Ethan Jones out of the lineup because of illness. Lemke got the ball for Fulton and lasted just two innings. Lemke allowed three earned runs on five walks and one strikeout. Seth Sanderson and Huff split the final four innings.
“It hurt a little not having a top-two guy there tonight,” Miller said. “Jack just got tired after throwing Thursday, and all of our guys were just pitchered out.”
The two teams, according to Miller, raised around $5,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“We want to thank both Legion posts for presenting the colors, Trent Yenney (from Country Financial in Fulton, Ill.) for donating the money for uniforms, and Adcraft for designing the jerseys,” Miller said.
Sondergroth also had a special tie to the event, “My cousin is a Wounded Warrior, so for the kids to represent him in this game was really awesome.”
MORRISON 1, FULTON 0
Morrison 000 000 1 — 1 7 2
Fulton 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Joey Brackemyer (7 ip, 3 h, 0 r, 0 er, 4 bb, 7 so) and Justin Jensen. Devon Ballard (6 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 0 er, 1 bb, 6 so), Lucas Wiebenga (1 ip, 3 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 0 so) and Tyler Sweenie. Multiple hits — Morrison (Jensen 3, Mason Sitzmore 2). RBI — Jensen.
MORRISON 11, FULTON 4
Fulton 002 020 0 — 4 3 6
Morrison 212 114 x — 11 9 2
Jack Lemke (2 ip, 1 h, 3 r, 3 er, 5 bb, 1 so), Seth Sanderson (2 2/3 ip, 5 h, 4 r, 1 er, 4 bb, 1 so), Cody Huff (1 1/3 ip, 3 h, 4 r, 4 er, 3 bb, 2 so) and Tyler Sweenie. Bill Lee Greul (4 2/3 ip, 3 h, 4 r, 0 er, 2 bb, 4 so), Mason Sitzmore (2 1/3 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 so) and Justin Jensen. Multiple hits — Fulton (Seth Sanderson 2); Morrison (Jensen, Triston Houzenga, Ryan VanZuiden). 2B — Morrison (Greul). RBIs — Fulton (Devon Ballard); Morrison (Ben Tegeler 3, Jensen 3, Greul, VanZuiden, Andy Bird).