Potters hit Raiders hard early to lock up outright third place

Bryan Veginski
Morton sophomore shortstop Jared Liddle applies the tag May 13 as the baseball team picks off an East Peoria baserunner who strayed too far off second in the top of the first inning at Morton Community Baseball Stadium. The Potters and Raiders split their Mid-Illini Conference series last week, with each winning at home.

Morton wrapped up solo third place in the Mid-Illini Conference in quick order May 13.

The Potters had all of their hits and runs in the first two innings on Senior Night in a 7-0 rout of the East Peoria baseball team at Morton Community Baseball Stadium.

Jordan Wanner threw a two-hit shutout. He struck out nine and walked only one.

“It was good to see him get back on track,” MHS head coach Jesse Crawford said of Wanner, who lost three of his previous four league decisions.

Besides Tyler Hilton, the rest of the Raider line-up was 0-for-19 off Wanner.

After getting eliminated from M-I title contention, Crawford said the team’s next goal was to try to solidify third place.

Morton accomplished that by pounding East Peoria starter Lance Willis, who consistently fell behind in the count.

After Jake Morsch led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, David Rossi smacked an RBI double to left-center field.

After a flyout, Jack Compton delivered an RBI double to deep left to make it 2-0.

Following an error, Joel Sauder lifted a sacrifice fly to center.

Riley Donald was hit by a pitch to open the second and the next batter, Jake Starkey, induced a walk.

Rossi pulled an RBI single down the third-base line with one out to drive in two runs, making it 5-0.

With two outs, Willis was removed in favor of Bobby Martin.

Compton provided an infield single and Cole McDonald a run-scoring base hit that also did not reach the outfield.

An error, one of five by the Raiders, extended the inning.

After scoring only five runs over their previous 35 innings, the Potters enjoyed the early outburst.

The seven-member senior class, which was introduced before the first pitch, helped set a good foundation for Crawford.

“They were great leaders for me this year,” he said.

Normal University 7, MHS 3

The Pioneers answered a three-run Potter rally in the top of the sixth inning with three tallies of their own in the home half in a May 14 non-conference win.

Wanner was 2-for-4 for Morton, and Sauder was credited with an RBI.

Starter Corey Dullard and Jared Liddle had four strikeouts apiece.

Dullard gave up three runs on six hits in four innings to take the loss. He walked just one.

Liddle was charged with four runs in two innings. He surrendered four hits with three walks.

East Peoria 7, MHS 1

The Raiders earned a league split with the Potters May 15 at Dave Rodgers Field.

Morton finished 8-6 in the conference, two games ahead of fourth-place teams East Peoria and Washington.

Sauder had the only two Potter hits off the Raider trio of Martin, Brock Stewart and Kevin Ulrich, a slight variation  from the combination two days earlier.

Starkey produced a fifth-inning RBI.

Ryan Basden was dealt the loss. He struck out four and yielded five runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Illinois Valley Central 9, MHS 3

The Potters closed out the regular season Thursday with their third 2013 setback against the Grey Ghosts.

Morton (14-15) trailed immediately as visiting IVC registered four runs in the top of the first inning.

The first of six pitchers, McDonald, was saddled with the defeat as he walked three and was reached for four runs on two hits.

Zach Hoby, Nick Taylor and Nick Monferdini all tossed scoreless innings in the fifth through seventh.

Sauder was 3-for-3  with a triple and an RBI.

Rossi chipped in two hits and an RBI, and Ryan Wiegand knocked in a run as well. Both players laced doubles.

Postseason: Morton and Washington meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals of the Potters’ Class 3A regional.

The winner proceeds to the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Morton Regional winner squares off against the Geneseo Regional champion at 5 p.m. May 29 in the Washington Sectional semifinals.