STERLING – Morrison vs. Newman. It’s the premier local football rivalry. Monday, the schools tangled on the baseball field – and had a football-like outcome.
The Mustangs rode a 10-run inning to a 13-8 Three Rivers Conference victory at Newman.
“During football, it’s bigger, it’s a lot more intense,” Morrison’s Danny Willis said of the rivalry. “But it definitely comes into baseball too.”
Is Newman the Mustangs’ biggest rival?
“It’s technically Fulton, everyone says, but I would say it’s Newman,” said Willis (1-0), who worked 3 1/3 innings of relief without allowing an earned run to get the win. “Newman’s so good at everything. It you can beat Newman, it shows what you’re about.”
“It’s more of a friendly rivalry outside of football,” the Comets’ Kyle Moore said. “It gets intense in football. It’s not that friendly there.”
The Comets (1-10, 0-4) took a 2-0 lead with a two-run second inning. Alex Buhler and A.J. Sharp both drew bases-loaded walks in the inning.
Morrison (6-3, 4-1) busted out in the third inning, scoring 10 runs on 10 hits. Triston Houzenga, Alex Volckmann and Willis had two hits apiece in the inning. Houzenga was 4-for-4 out of the No. 9 spot.
Alex Fischbach (3-for-4) and Bill Lee Greul each had two-run singles in the outburst, which also included an RBI double by Willis, RBI singles by Houzenga and Mason Sitzmore, an RBI groundout by Brock Deter, and an RBI by Connor Duncan in which he reached on an error.
Trailing 10-2, Newman made things interesting with a five-run fourth to make it 10-7. The Comets had three hits in the inning, and took advantage of three walks and a hit batsman.
Moore had a two-run single, while Trevor Bolin and Michael Ely, who was 2-for-3 in the game, both drew bases-loaded walks.
Morrison tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth. Volckmann drew a bases-loaded walk, and two runs scored on an error.
Newman scored once in the seventh before stranding two runners. Sharp provided an RBI single.
Moore kept Newman in the game with 4 2/3 innings of solid relief, allowing just one earned run ... and he hadn’t pitched in a game in years.
“Seventh grade was the last time I pitched,” Moore said. “I kept bugging Coach [Tom Wilson] all year about it, and he finally threw me in. I’m hoping for more. I like it. It’s fun out there.”
Morrison banged out 16 hits.
“We’re really struggled at the plate against some better pitching,” Mustangs coach Ben Sondgeroth said. “It was nice to come out here and break out a little bit, and get the sticks going.”
Bolin (1-1) took the loss. After two scoreless innings, he wound up allowing 10 runs, nine earned, and 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings.
“If we quit making the little mistakes, we’re better than a .500 team,” Wilson said. “I’m proud of the kids. They don’t quit.”
Star of the game: Alex Fischbach, Morrison, 3-4, 2 RBIs
Key performers: Triston Houzenga, Morrison, 4-4, RBI; Michael Ely, Newman, 2-3, RBI
Up next: Newman at Bureau Valley, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday; Morrison vs. Riverdale (at Clinton, Iowa), 6 p.m. Wednesday