MORRISON – The Morrison baseball team was in a giving mood. Milledgeville gladly accepted, and moves on to fight another day.
The Missiles took advantage of some shaky pitching and defense by the Mustangs and rolled to an 11-1, five-inning victory on Tuesday in a Class 1A Morrison Regional quarterfinal. Milledgeville returns to Morrison today to take on Newman in a regional semifinal.
Morrison pitchers issued nine walks and uncorked four wild pitches to help fuel a Milledgeville offense that produced just seven hits.
“Tonight we made good decisions at the plate,” Milledgeville senior Kyle Ottens said. “We weren’t swinging at any bad pitches, for the most part, and when we do that, we get a lot of walks. When people are on base, it gets pressure on the defense, and then everything opens up.”
Morrison sophomore starter Riley Wilkens (2-2) set the tone by walking the first four batters to produce the game’s first run. Blayne Kappes followed with an RBI fielder’s choice, and Connor Woodin drove in a run with a base hit.
The inning’s fourth run came when Kappes stole third base. Morrison third baseman Luke Wilkens jumped to catch a high throw from catcher Matt Norman. The ball went into left field, and Wilkens landed on Kappes on the way down. Kappes was awarded home as the base umpire ruled obstruction on the play.
Milledgeville (9-14) also scored four more runs in the third inning. Cayde Gusloff knocked in two with a base hit, while two more scored on a wild pitch from reliever Allan Meinsma.
Norman was unable to locate the ball near the backstop, and Jack Munz raced around from second base to score the second run on the play.
The Missiles made it a 10-run lead in the top of the fifth. An error, a single by Noah Newstrand and a walk to Carson Boyer loaded the bases with one out. Matthew Biller followed with an RBI fielder’s choice, then Ottens laced a clean single to center to drive in two more.
Cade Schave, meanwhile, overcame a shaky start on the mound to keep Morrison at bay. In the first two innings, he allowed two hits, walked two, hit a batter and threw three wild pitches – one of which produced the Mustangs’ lone run. He got out of bases-loaded, two-out situation to end the second inning on a fly ball to right by Reilly Dolan, then cruised from there.
Schave (3-3) retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, with a two-out walk to Dolan in the fifth the only blemish. He finished with a two-hitter, with three strikeouts, three walks and a hit batsman.
“Mostly it was just me concentrating,” Schave said, when asked about his early troubles. “Sometimes I try and pinpoint it, and that doesn’t work. I’ve just got to go out there and throw without thinking. If you think, you lose. If you don’t think, you win. That’s how I think about it.”
Dolan and Brevin Pruis had the only hits for Morrison (5-14), both singles. The lack of offense, along with too many mistakes on the mound and in the field, produced a predictable result.
“It’s hard to control the emotions,” Morrison coach Michael Budka said. “I told the guys from the beginning that the first team that can learn to relax and control their emotions gives itself the best chance to be successful. We couldn’t do that.”
Milledgeville hosted Newman back on April 11 and dropped a 12-0, five-inning decision. The Missiles are planning to put up a much better fight today.
“We played them, and it doesn’t mean a single thing,” Schave said. “This is postseason now. They beat us my sophomore year, handled us really well, and then we came back to beat them in the regional. Anything’s possible.”
Milledgeville coach Terry Kelly noted the teams’ earlier matchup came at the time when the Missiles were short on available pitching arms. That won’t be the case today.
“It’ll be different this time,” Kelly said. “We’ve got four arms we can throw at them, so that’s probably the way we’re going to go.”
1A Morrison Regional quarterfinal
Milledgeville 11, Morrison 1, 5 innings
Star of the game: Cade Schave, Milledgeville, win, 5 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 SO, 3 BB, 1 HBP
Key performers: Blayne Kappes, Milledgeville, 2-for-3, 2 R, RBI; Cayde Gusloff & Kyle Ottens, Milledgeville, 2-run 1Bs
Up next: 1A Morrison Regional semifinal, Milledgeville vs. Newman, 4:30 p.m. today