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Baseball: Rockets plate 10 runs in first 2 innings of opening game

Eager to get it started

ROCK FALLS – It’s not easy being holed up indoors and trying to hit baseballs. 

Both the Morrison and Rock Falls baseball teams were eager to get outdoors and get their nonconference game in before the week turned over. 

The Rockets were a little more eager, and senior pitcher Logan Pillars could sense it as the game remained in limbo Friday morning. 

“We were all pumped when we heard we were going to play,” Pillars said. “Every single one of our guys in the hallways just had a big smile on their face. It was awesome to get outside.”

In just two innings, the Rockets did just enough work to dispatch the Mustangs 11-1 in five innings.

Roger Carlson started the season with 2-RBI doubles in his first two at-bats, leading a 10-run barrage in the first pair of frames. The Rockets (1-0) rocked Mustangs starter Ethan Fischbach, who faced six batters in the second inning without recording an out. 

“It’s definitely different,” Carlson said. “We’ve had two outside practices and have been hitting in the gym every practice that we’ve had for the past 2 weeks.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the gym hitting, so it’s good to be able to come out and show how much we’ve been working on it.”

Pillars reached base in his first three at-bats, and smacked a 2-RBI single to left field in the second inning. Fischbach was pulled after the next at-bat for Luke Wilkens, who gave up four runs to close the second inning.

Pillars threw two perfect innings and struck out four before giving way to Matt Laws, who struck out two in his only inning. 

“I think that was just more from our excitement to be outside,” Pillars said. “Everyone was a little more focused, a little more ready to go, because we finally got a game under our belt. We weren’t expecting to play, so we were pretty excited when we heard we were going to play, and we were just a little more amped and ready to hit the ball.”

Allan Meinsma relieved Wilkens to start the third inning and quelled the Rockets’ bats for the most part, allowing just one run and one hit; but had two on in the fourth inning after back-to-back infield errors. 

Trying to avoid the run-rule, Morrison got its only run in the fifth on Dylan Keller’s RBI groundout to score Ben Vanderlaan, who moved up a couple of bases on wild pitches. 

Meinsma had Morrison’s only hit, a fourth-inning single.

“I told these guys that it’s going to take time,” said first-year Morrison coach Michael Budka. “I love this team, and I have great faith in this team. I was telling them that this is a 3A program with rich tradition, and [Rock Falls coach Donnie Chappell] has had some success. Those pitchers pounded the zone and got ahead early. When they’re ahead in the count, they can start working.”

Freshman lefty Jalen Bickett worked the fourth inning for the Rockets, striking out one and allowing one hit. Sophomore Jay Schuler took over in the fifth.

“Jay had some good stuff. Jay came in and was just kind of rushing a little bit,” Chappell said. “I thought they all looked good. Logan looked good, and it was good to see Matt and Jalen look great.”

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