Morris, Ottawa to meet for L-P Regional title Saturday – Shaw Local

LA SALLE – Two Interstate 8 Conference teams will meet for the Class 3A La Salle-Peru Regional championship.

No. 2-seeded Morris outlasted No. 6 La Salle-Peru 10-7 in Wednesday’s first semifinal, while No. 5 Ottawa defeated No. 3 Plano 7-3 in the second semifinal.

Morris (25-3) and the Pirates (16-19) will play in the title game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We’ve been playing pretty good baseball, and we have a chance for a regional title on Saturday,” Ottawa coach Tyler Wargo said. “We know what we’re up against. We played them three times. Morris is really, really solid. They’re well-coached.

“We know we have our work cut out for us.”

Morris went 2-1 against the Pirates in Interstate 8 Conference play, winning 7-0 and 6-3 and losing 7-2 in a rain-shortened game.

Adrian Arzola makes a catch in the outfield against Morris during the Class 3A Regional semifinal game at Huby Sarver Field in La Salle.

Morris 10, La Salle-Peru 7: Morris found itself in an unfamiliar position against the Cavaliers, falling behind 1-0 early and bouncing back to take a 4-1 lead only to see L-P explode for five runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 6-4 advantage.

In its half of the fifth, Morris responded and rode the momentum to victory.

“It’s an up-and-down game, lot of emotions in that game,” Morris coach Todd Kein said. “We knew L-P was going to give us every single bit they could, and they certainly did. We found ourselves down several times in the game. I’m just proud of the way we picked each other up.

“With all the success we’ve had this year, we haven’t been in a lot of tight situations, so I’m proud of how they responded to the adversity that L-P presented us.”

Morris started the bottom of the fifth with a hit batter and a walk. No. 9 hitter Caston Norris put down a bunt. The throw was missed at first, allowing a run to score. A.J. Zweeres hit a hard grounder to third baseman Nolan Van Duzer, whose throw home wasn’t in time. After a walk, Jack Wheeler delivered the big hit, ripping a bases-clearing, three-run double to left field.

“That was huge,” said Wheeler, who later scored on a sacrifice fly by Griffin Zweeres. “I knew he was throwing a lot of curveballs and a lot of curveballs up. I knew I had to sit back on one and smoke it that way. It was huge. It put us up by three.

“I knew I was coming on the mound. That felt good. It got the guys going, and I figured once we were going with a three-run lead, we were never going to look back.”

Wheeler allowed an RBI double to Brendan Boudreau in the sixth, but sat the Cavs down in order in the seventh to close out the win.

“I mixed it up,” Wheeler said. “They’re good enough hitters to the point where if I just threw fastballs, they can hit it. I mixed up a lot of curveballs and fastballs in there that it was going to be tough and they weren’t going to know what’s coming. I was just letting them put it in play. If I strike them out, I strike them out, but I trust my defense behind me.”

The Cavs (15-16) took the early lead when Alex Galindo hit a two-out double and Van Duzer followed with an RBI single.

Morris scored two runs in the third and fourth innings to take a 4-1 lead before L-P rallied in the fifth.

Brady Romagnoli led off with a single and Jack Jereb was hit by a pitch. Given the choice by coach Matt Glupczynski to lay down a sacrifice bunt or swing away, Seth Adams swung away and ripped a two-run double into left field. Jacob Gross hit an RBI single off the leg of Morris starter Cody DelFavero, and Van Duzer capped the scoring with a two-run single down the third-base line.

“It all started with Romo at 9, then Jack,” Glupczynski said. “We put the pressure right back on them. They most likely thought we were going to roll over once they went up, and we didn’t. We fought back.

“I thought we fought the entire time. The last 10 games or so we’ve been playing a lot better baseball, and it showed today. We just came up short. Morris is a really good team. You have to be able to play all 21 outs and not have any mistakes.”

Ottawa 7, Plano 3: The Pirates couldn’t get much going against Plano starter Kaden Aguirre.

The Reapers’ ace threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out seven batters, walking five and hitting one.

Ottawa loaded the bases in the second and fourth innings with less than two outs, but Aguirre escaped the jams each time.

Once Plano went to the bullpen, the Pirates used a patient approach at the plate and timely hits to score seven runs over the final three innings to pull away for the win.

“Obviously, it took us a little bit to get going with the bates, but we took advantage of some walks and got a couple big hits mixed in there. I was just really proud of how our guys responded. We’ve done that multiple times lately where we got down early and responded with some runs late,” Ottawa coach Tyler Wargo said.

“I thought our approach got a little bit better. Our at-bats overall got a little bit better. We started fouling balls off, and then eventually we took advantage of some of their miscues.”

Ottawa tied it with two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Jack Henson and a bases-loaded walk by Garrett Shymanski. The Pirates drew five walks in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk to take a 4-2 lead.

Ottawa pitcher Cam Loomis lets go of a pitch to Plano during the Class 3A Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at Huby Sarver Field in La Salle.

In the seventh, Lucas Farabaugh laid down a squeeze bunt that went for a single to plate a run, Jace Veith scored on an error when Farabaugh stole second, and Swanson delivered an RBI single to extend the lead to 7-3.

While it took time for Ottawa’s offense to start clicking, Cam Loomis limited the Plano offense as well to keep it a tight game. Loomis threw six innings, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out 13 batters and walking three.

“I knew they weren’t touching my fastball, so I was working that a lot,” Loomis said. “I was sitting outside, because it’s a hard target for them to hit. It was just working for me.

“It felt great (when the offense started scoring). I felt like I had more support. Any kind of stress was gone. It felt great.”

Plano took a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Amari Bryant drew a walk, Jake Decker reached on a bunt single, and Jason Phillips poked a two-out single to right field to plate two runs.

“It was a good pitchers’ duel to start, then we went to the bullpen and things just didn’t turn out for us,” Plano coach Nate Hill said. “We expected to be able to get through a few more innings there, but it just kind of exploded on us at the end.

“I love the effort and fight from our guys until the end. Tough way to end the season.”

The Reapers finish 20-14 for their first winning season since 2011.

“It’s been one of our better seasons,” Hill said. “We haven’t had a winning season at Plano in quite some time. These guys have really bought into what we do, and it shows by the way they played this year. They came in driven.

“It’s been a quality season for us. It just didn’t end the way we wanted. I’m proud of the effort our guys put in this year to put us back where we want to be and set an example for the next groups to come.”

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