The Morris Eagles amateur baseball team opened the 2008 season with a loss, but bounced back to start a winning streak throughout the month of May.
The Morris Eagles opened the season May 4 with a 3-1 loss to region rival Raymond.
Chad Christianson got the start and was the hard luck loser. He gave up two unearned runs in six innings of work.
Adam Torkelson also pitched well the final two innings.
Defensively the Eagles were solid with the exception of one bad inning. Morris had two errors in the third that proved costly and led to Raymond's two runs.
Tony Schultz had a solid game at shortstop with many nice plays.
Offensively the sticks struggled with typical early season struggles. Morris left 14 runners on base which proved costly. Veteran Matt Carrington had two hits including a rare bunt single. Newcomer Eric Asche had his first Eagle hit along with Craig Knochenmus. Ross Haugen and Adam Torkelson had the rest of the Eagle hits.
The Eagles' winning streak started May 11 with a home 9-2 win over Wheaton in Land O' Ducks League action.
Torkelson and Eric combined on a five-hitter and newcomers Kevin Pope, Dan Folie, and Asche were a combined 7-for-13 as the Eagles dominated the Walleyes. The Walleyes are coming off a strong 2007 season in which they qualified for regions.
Torkelson has not seen much mound duty the last couple of years, but looked solid in his first couple outings this season.
Carrington had two hits to aid in the Eagles' effort.
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In his first start in two years, Kirby Marquart pitched four solid innings for the Eagles on May 14. Carrington picked up the win with three shut-out innings in the middle of the game.
The win in relief gives Carrington 27 career wins on the hill, tying Big Jay Asmus for the career victory lead.
Asche closed the door with two hitless innings to pick up the save. Asche has not allowed a hit in five innings this year.
Defensively the Eagles made some great plays. Rob Sayles had the play of the night. Playing second base, he dove to his glove side on a ground ball, snared it, and got up and threw the runner out.
Schultz at short and John Lembcke at first also made some great plays.
Offensively the bats were a little quiet with the exception of Todd Hottovy who was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Hottovy, who holds the stolen base record at Morris Area High School, also had a stolen base.
Carrington had a 2-for-4 night and Torkelson was 3-for-5.
On May 17 Brock Pashen pitched seven innings, battling early control problems and a stiff wind, to get the victory. Pashen will be pitching the next couple of months for the Clarinda A's in a college league similar to the Northwoods League. Hopefully he will be back for the Eagles to aid in their playoff push.
Asche threw two innings without allowing a hit. He now has thrown seven innings without allowing a hit to open the season.
Chase Rambow, fresh from completing his sophomore season for Mankato Bethany, was 2-for-4.
Five other hitters managed one hit in the stiff wind which was blowing straight in from center.
As bad as the wind was earlier in the day at Morris, it was worse in Clinton. The Eagles struggled to get runners across.
In the seventh inning, Morris tied the game at one. Torkelson led off by getting hit by a pitch. Pashen then bunted him over to second. Rambow walked with two out to put runners at first and second. Kirby Marquart then hit a ground ball to second that went right under the second baseman's glove to get the run from second in.
In the bottom of the ninth with no one out, Schultz threw the ball past Lembcke at first. The agile Lembcke hustled after the ball and hit cutoff man Rambow who threw out the runner at third.
Finally in the 10th, Asche led off with a walk. With two outs and Haugen at second, Torkelson laced a single to left that went under the fielder's glove scoring Haugen and putting Torkelson at second. Lembcke followed with a double to left scoring Torkelson. Sayles continued with a single to center, but John Lembcke was gunned out at the plate.
The runs would hold up as Rambow pitched all 10 innings striking out 16.