By Jerry Ramig
Herald Sports Writer
MORRISON, Ill.. — The Morrison Mustangs advanced to the sectional round of the Illinois high school Class 2A baseball tournament, where they will travel to Mendota to play the host team in semifinal action Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The Mustangs (24-2) won the Morrison Regional championship game in a thriller Saturday at the Vernon Paul Memorial Diamond as they took a 3-0 decision from the Prophetstown/Erie Panthers.
It was a pitchers duel for both teams during the first four innings. But the Mustangs came up with five hits and took advantage of five Panthers errors and a big sixth inning to come up with the win.
Starter and winning pitcher for the Mustangs, senior Jason Smith, held the Panthers to no runs on just two hits, struck out 12 batters and walked only two.
The Mustangs had only three hits until the sixth inning, when they got things going their way. Andrew Cook led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second then scored on a single to center by Will Bird for the first run of the game.
“The key to the game was when Will Bird stepped up to the plate and gave us the biggest hit of the year, scoring that first run, which seemed to relax everybody,” Morrison coach Scott Vance said.
Zach Greul kept the inning going with a walk, followed by a single to center by Smith. Both runners scored on an infield hit by Tyler Hayes to make it 3-0, taking them to the last inning where they held on for the win.
The Panthers, who closed their season with a 17-13 record, had a chance in the sixth. With one out, Wes Proulx got a single, followed by two walks to load the bases. But the Mustangs got out of the inning on a groundout and a strikeout. In the seventh inning, the Panthers went three up and three down.
“It was a gutsy win for us and Jason Smith pitched like a four-year starter is suppose to,” Vance said.
Score by Innings
P’town/Erie 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
Morrison 000 003 x — 3 5 1
Eann Cox, Beau Kirkpatrick (6) and Brandon Borkovec, Eric Adcock (6); Jason Smith and Tyler Hayes. Two or more hits — Morrison (Kyle Dermody 2). RBIs— Morrison (Tyler Hayes 2, Will Bird). Records — Prophetstown/Erie 17-13; Morrison 24-2.
By Jerry Ramig