Defense was strong, minus two errors midway through the game, and the No. 2-seeded Morris Junior Legion baseball team upset No. 1-seeded Starbuck, 9-4, on Tuesday, July 30, at Minnewaska Area High School in Glenwood.
The game was very much a pitcher's duel through the first three innings with Morris' Zach Bruns going up against Starbuck's Darion Alexander on the mound. Minus a lead-off walk to Morris' Brandon Jergenson to start the game, each team went down in order.
Morris' offense exploded midway through the game with eight runs on nine hits in two innings. In the fourth, Will Breuer and Riley Reimers both singled with one out. Breuer scored on an RBI single by Tristan Raths then Reimers scored on an error. After a walk loaded the bases, Derek Giese connected for a two-RBI single to give Morris a 4-0 lead.
Starbuck got a run back in the bottom half after Aaron Ver Steeg scored on a bases loaded ground out by Sam Hested.
The hot bats continued for Morris in the fifth despite a pitching change for Starbuck. After a four-pitch walk to Zach Bruns led off the inning, he came around to score on a Will Breuer double. Breuer later scored on a single by Raths. With two outs and the bases loaded, Derek Giese singled in Raths. Mason Dougherty scored on a Ross Marty single to put Morris up 8-1 after 4.5 innings.
Starbuck put up two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth but could get no closer. Morris' Dylan Rose scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Jergenson for the final run of the game in the top of the seventh inning to take the 9-4 win.
Raths and Giese had three hits each to lead the offense. Bruns took the win on the mound. He gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits, walked two and struck out seven in five innings pitched. Raths pitched the final two innings to earn the save. He gave up an unearned run on three hits, walked two and struck out one.
With the win, Morris earns a spot in the District 7 Junior Legion championship at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, in Glenwood. No. 1 Starbuck plays the winner of No. 5 ACGC and No. 4 Brooten in an elimination game on Friday, Aug. 2, in Glenwood, to determine who Morris will play Saturday morning. If Morris loses Saturday, a second game will be played to determine the state-bound champion.
Morris 9, Starbuck 4
Morris (18-6).........000 440 1 - 9 13 1
Starbuck...................000 121 0 - 4 6 1
HITTING - Morris: Will Breuer 2-3 2b rbi r-2, Riley Reimers 1-2 r, Tristan Raths 3-4 rbi-2 r-2, Mason Dougherty 1-3 rbi r-2, Dylan Rose 1-2 r, Derek Giese 3-4 rbi-3, Ross Marty 2-4 rbi... Starbuck: Aaron Ver Steeg 1-3 r, Mitch Gruber 2-3, Darion Alexander 1-4, Sam Hested 1-3 rbi r, Jace Lindemann 1-3 rbi
PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) - Morris: Zach Bruns (W) 5-3-3-2-2-7, Raths (Sv) 2-3-1-0-2-1... Starbuck: Alexander 4-4-4-2-2-4, Derek Lohre 3-9-5-5-5-0