By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

No.1 Cougars, Morris hold off valiant Schmitt and the Bengals in SPC East


Last updated 5/10/2021 at 9:46pm

On an unseasonably cold, windy May afternoon, Plainfield South senior right hander Will Morris toed the rubber versus Plainfield East senior right-hander Gavin Schmitt.

In a classic pitcher's-duel, Morris (3-0) out-dueled Schmitt as the top-ranked Cougars (10-1, 6-1) prevailed 2-1 over the valiant Bengals (5-9, 3-4)

The game was the first of three of this week's Southwest Prairie East series.

All three runs allowed in the contest were unearned. Morris allowed two hits and Schmitt allowed three.

Schmitt struck out a career high 16 Cougar hitters, while Morris fanned six. Schmitt did not walk a batter. Morris walked one.

Through the first four innings, a double no-hitter was in progress as both pitchers were sensational and had not allowed a hit. Schmitt retired the first 14 Cougars batters he faced.

In the Cougars top of the fifth, after two outs, senior Riley Jepsen reached base on a Bengals miscue. Jepsen then stole second base.

Entering tonight's game, Cougars first baseman Matt Kelliher came in with a .211 batting average. It's not how many hits one gets, it's when you get them.

Kelliher ripped a clutch, two-out RBI single to right for the first hit of the game and Jepsen scored the first run for a 1-0 Cougars lead.

"Will (Morris) was pitching so great for us, that I had to help him out by driving in the first run," Kelliher said. "Great win for us tonight."

"Matt (Kelliher) is never affected by pressure," Plainfield South head coach Phil Bodine said. "He just plays the game of baseball and came up with a big RBI single, to get us on the board."

The Cougars picked up another gift run in the top of the sixth.

Cougars No. 9 hitter, senior second baseman Gio Herrera, reached first base on a Bengal miscue after striking out. Herrera advanced to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a single from Cougars right fielder Zander Tubbs and then score on an errant Bengals pick-off attempt at first base for a 2-0 Cougs' lead.

The Bengals got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, as leadoff man sophomore Brady Louck dribbled a slow roller just out of the reach of Herrera for the Bengals first hit. After one out, senior Christian Mitchelle walked. With two out, Jake Denton reached on a Cougars miscue to load the bases.

Bengal third baseman Jake Eason ripped an RBI single scoring Louck with the lone Bengals run. Morris punched out the final Bengals hitter to escape the sixth with the 2-1 lead.

Morris dispatched the Bengals 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh for the Cougars game-winner.

"My fastball was my best pitch tonight," Morris said. "I have been working toward this moment for three years now. Matt got a big RBI single for me and the rest of my teammates made this great victory possible."

For the tough-luck loser Gavin Schmitt, words could not hide the sorrow one felt for the outstanding Bengals right-hander.

"Everything was working for me tonight," Schmitt said. "My fastball had movement. My curve ball was outstanding as well as my change-up. My teammates did the best they could for me. We just fell a little short. That's baseball. The 16 strikeouts I had tonight were the most I have ever recorded in a game here at Plainfield East."

The two teams will move to the south side on Tuesday, before returning to Plainfield East for the finale of the three-game SPC East series on Thursday.

"Great pitchers battle between Will (Morris) and East's Schmitt," Bodine added. "Will hasn't pitched that well for us this year but tonight he made a big step forward. He brought out a new pitch, the palmball, to give him another pitch in contrast to his upper-80's fastball.

"We played well tonight but we must improve to continue to win."


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