Jon Gremmels Herald Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Triston Houzenga couldn’t have asked for a much better situation.
With his Morrison baseball team tied with Riverdale, he stepped to the plate with one out, the bases loaded and the top of the order waiting behind him in the second inning Wednesday evening.
He fell behind in the count but then delivered, his two-run single giving the Mustangs the lead for good in a five-run inning that turned into a 12-3 victory in the second of three Three Rivers Conference baseball games at Ashford University Field.
“It felt good coming through,” said Houzenga, the No. 9 batter in the Morrison lineup. “We really needed something, and it felt good coming back after two strikes.”
The win kept the Mustangs (7-3, 5-1 TRAC-9) a game behind Erie/Prophetstown in the loss column in the conference standings.
Morrison’s big inning began when Brock Deter reached on an error. He moved up on a wild pitch, then Connor Duncan walked. After a popout, Bill Lee Greul singled to load the bases and set up Houzenga, who was coming off a 4-for-4 game Monday against Sterling Newman.
“I was just looking for a hit,” Houzenga said.
He got it, stroking a two-run single into right field for a 3-1 lead. Alexander Volckmann and Danny Willis followed with run-scoring singles, ending the night for Riverdale starter Jared Richmond.
Morrison tacked on one more run before the inning was over, scored single runs in the third and fourth innings, got a two-run double from Andrew Connelly in a three-run fifth and scored its final run in the seventh on Duncan’s RBI double.
Morrison pitcher Alex Fischbach limited Riverdale to five hits while striking out seven batters. He settled down after giving up a triple to Ruben Garza and a run-scoring bloop single to Josh Lohman, the first two batters he faced.
“He was consistent with his fastball on the outside corner, and his curve was working well today,” said Houzenga, Morrison’s catcher.
Helped by a pair of double-play grounders, Fischbach never faced more than four batters in an inning through the first four. Only a bout with wildness prevented him, and the Mustangs, from ending the game in five innings.
Dalton Peterson opened the bottom of the fifth with an infield single and advanced twice on wild pitches. A walk to Nolan Milroy put runners on the corners, then Fischbach threw a pitch that struck out Grady Todd but got far enough away from Houzenga to let Milroy take second. Another wild pitch allowed Peterson to score and Milroy to take third, then Milroy scored on Garza’s sacrifice fly.
“He said he was going to try submarining, and it didn’t work out,” Houzenga said.
Fischbach faced just seven more batters, striking out four of them and getting help from right fielder Mason Sitzmore and second baseman Volckmann as they threw out Ian Wirt trying to stretch a pinch-hit single into a double in the seventh.
The Mustangs play another game in the three-day event at the minor-league ballpark today. They take on Kewanee at 4 p.m.
“It’s a lot of fun playing here,” Houzenga said. “It feels good that they let us play here on a bigger field.”
MORRISON 12, RIVERDALE 3
Morrison 151 130 1 — 12 14 0
Riverdale 100 020 0 — 3 5 1
Alex Fischbach (7 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 3 er, 2 bb, 7 so) and Triston Houzenga; Jared Richmond (1 1/3 ip, 4 h, 6 r, 5 er, 2 bb, 1 so), Dalton Peterson (3 ip, 7 h, 5 r, 5 er, 6 bb, 3 so), Nathan Rocker (2 2/3 ip, 3 h, 1 r, 0 bb, 3 so) and Grady Todd. Multiple hits — Morrison (Alex Volckmann 3, Danny Willis 2, Connor Duncan 2, Bill Lee Greul 2). 2B — Morrison (Andrew Connelly, Duncan). 3B — Riverdale (Ruben Garza). RBIs — Morrison (Willis, Fischbach, Connelly 3, Duncan 2, Houzenga 2); Riverdale (Josh Lohman, Garza).