By R. Alan Richardson
With wins over Madison County 12-2, Mary Persons 12-1, Heritage Christian 10-0, and Gainesville 2-1, the 2019 version of Morgan County is now 4-0 and looking strong after the first week of the season. Three of those wins were on the road. It seems as if the Dogs are off and running building on the momentum of last season’s Final Four dash.
Only once in Morgan County baseball history has a team been that distance. With the return of the three aces on the pitching staff and a majority of starters still intact, the Dogs could be poised to make another historic run. Coach Merritt Ainslie said, “We are just trying to be consistent with our approach each day and perform the routine tasks routinely. It’s a long season. We need to stay focused on what we can do to get better as individuals and as a team each day.” He added, “The fans need to come out and watch these guys play. It’s fun to watch.” There’s no question that this team is full of talent. Talent like this doesn’t come around that often and shouldn’t be taken for granted. We better all enjoy it while it’s here!
Morgan defeated Madison County in the opener 12-2 before coming home for their home opener to face off with AAAA Mary Persons. The Dogs were aided mightily at the plate by a visiting Bulldog staff that had trouble from the first inning on finding the plate. Several of their pitches not only missed the plate, but found the backs of three MOCO batters.
The Dogs got three runs in the first without a single hit. Three walks, two hit batsmen, and two wild pitches by the starter sent Ethan Stamps, Hunter Lane, and Jaron Ferguson across. These first three hitters in the lineup scored nine of the Morgan 12 runs on the evening.
Lane went 3 and 2/3 innings on the mound without giving up a run and allowing only two hits. He struck out four and gave up two walks before giving way to sophomore Maddux Smith. Tristan Stapp came on to close things out with the final out of the fourth inning.
Lane not only was the winning pitcher but also went 3-for-3 at the plate, scored four runs, and got two RBI’s that included a triple to left centerfield that scored Stamps in the third. The big blow of the night came when Ferguson hammered an opposite field walk-off homer in the fifth to quickly end the game by run-rule.
The weekend games included two contests in Brunswick where the Dogs took down Heritage Christian in the first of a double-header. Three pitchers, Jaron Ferguson, Jacob Anderson, and Blake Silvey, combined for the shutout. Ferguson got the win after three innings of work giving up zero runs and striking out seven. The five-inning run-rule shortened game broke loose in the fourth when Morgan scored five runs. Stamps, Tristan Stapp, Will Harper, Seth Robertson, and Blake Silvey all had RBI’s in the big inning. Stamps was the big gun at the plate going 3-4 with two stolen bases. He led the Dogs as they ran wild on the bases with nine pilfers. It was a defensive gem for Morgan as they didn’t commit a single error on the day.
Game two was a pitchers’ duel with Stamps on the mound. The junior went the distance for the Dogs allowing only one run on three hits over seven innings while striking out 12 and issuing only one free pass. He only faced 25 batters on the afternoon. Catcher Silvey went 2-for-3 at the plate to continue his hot hitting. The only other hits were Lane’s double and singles by Harper and Robertson. Stapp was a menace on the base paths with three stolen bases on the day.
Next up for Morgan will be an away game at Mary Persons on Friday, Feb 22 at 5:55 p.m. They played Walnut Grove this week at home. Final results of that game were not available.