By Nick Snow
MORRISON, Okla. —
On a bitterly cold day, the Morrison High School baseball team’s bats were anything but in a 12-4 rout over Mulhall-Orlando Tuesday.
The Wildcats (12-13) scored 10 runs in the first inning — six before the second out was recorded — as Morrison flexed its offensive muscles early and often in one last tune-up before district play begins next week.
“We’ve been struggling at the bat, so it was real good to see the guys come out and be aggressive at the plate,” Morrison coach Tim Hatter said. “Good things happen when we put the ball at the plate. That’s a good group and they’re going to do well in their district. It just felt really good that our team came out and played a complete game. I was proud of our defense as much as I was that 10 runs in the first inning. We pitched well and played good defense behind him.”
With the upcoming districts on the minds of both squads, Tuesday’s game didn’t have that high anticipation you’d expect from two of the area’s top programs.
“We were treating this kind of like a scrimmage situation,” Mulhall-Orlando coach Brett Converse said. “We have districts this week, so we knew we were going to be pretty vanilla and not do to much. We just came over here and tried to get our timing down and let everybody throw.”
It may not have been the classic battle that everybody hoped for — and the chilly conditions likely had a hand in that — but there were plenty of fireworks from both sides.
Kyle Collins went 3-for-4 and had three RBIs — all coming in Morrison’s 10-run first — while Mulhall-Orlando’s J.D. Cameron put out the Wildcats’ fire, relieving starter Sam Schwarz striking out seven in three innings of work.
“They made an adjustment and we just got a little complacent,” Hatter said. “I’d like to see us keep driving forward on that. But he’s a tough kid and pitched well.”
Cameron may have quieted Morrison’s bats, but it was too little too late as the Panther’s struggled against the mustachioed Ty Stout (5-5) — who lived up to his last name by allowing four runs on five hits and four walks.
“He spotted the ball well and he started working on his second and third pitch more and started throwing them a little bit more,” Hatter said. “He’s been going a deeper into games lately, so I’m very proud of Ty.”
Morrison opened the game when the first four batters reached — including an RBI double by Collins and an RBI single by Stout. Collins then scored on a single by Josh Hite before a walk loaded the bases.
That’s when the floodgates opened on Mulhall-Orlando, as an error allowed courtesy runner Will Lalman to score before another walk forced Hite in.
Jordan Quinata followed with a RBI singled and Jonathan Kisler scored on a wild pitch. Collins then unloaded the bases with a two-run single to left before Stout tallied Morrison’s 10th run with a two-out single.
With Cameron on the mound, the Panthers battled back in the top of the third as Preston Converse and Schwarz walked. Thomas Richardson then roped a triple down the line, trimming Morrison’s lead to 10-2 before Quinata tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth.
Mulhall-Orlando managed to keep the game alive with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, but Justin Bearry’s one-out single in the bottom of the fifth scored Collins to end the game by run rule.
Preston Converse led Mulhall-Orlando going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs, while Stout went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for Morrison at the plate.
“Our goal was to keep our pitchers at 50 pitches and get ourselves ready for districts,” the Mulhall-Orlando coach said. “We haven’t played a lot of games. It’s been a while, so this was a chance to shake off some rust before districts.”
Morrison 12, Davenport 5
It took a little longer for the Morrison bats to come alive in the second game of the doubleheader against Davenport, but when they did Morrison’s offense proved to be unstoppable, tallying 11 of its 12 over the final three innings.
Collins went 3-for-3 while starting pitcher Josh Hite helped his own cause by scoring three runs as the Wildcats (13-13) tallied six runs in the sixth inning to put Davenport away.
“(Hite) battled pretty hard, but we struggled early offensively,” Hatter said. “We finally got it going and he got into a rhythm. He started to get command of his breaking ball and that really helped. Those first few innings he was just trying to overpower everybody and they were hitting him fairly hard.
Along with Collins — who finished the day going 7-for-8 — Quinata also went 2-for-4 in the second game to help ignite the Wildcats’ offense.
“We were able to get guys on but we couldn’t get them in,” Hatter said. “We just weren’t getting hits at the right time. But as it became crunch time, guys really stepped up for us.”
Morrison will open the district tournament against Woodland at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Morrison.