HS Baseball: West Delaware Shuts Out Solon
By Jeff Johnson (Story) and Josh Christensen (Video)
SOLON – This is the last postseason run for Mike Morrison. His West Delaware Hawks are determined to make it a long one.
"That definitely makes us fight harder for what we're trying to get," said WD pitcher Jake Voss, after his four-hitter beat Solon, 3-0, Friday night in a Class 3A district semifinal. "We've got to step it up even more, just for that reason. I think we did that tonight."
Morrison is stepping aside from a program he put over two decades into and built into one of Eastern Iowa's finest. He will be West Delaware's new athletics director this coming school year, replacing the retired Bob Murphy.
This was win number 530 in the coach's career. Two more puts him back into the state tournament and five more gives him a second state championship.
West Delaware (23-14) plays Davenport Assumption (22-15) in a district final here Monday night. Assumption subdued Marion, 8-2.
"Honestly, it has never crossed my mind," Morrison said, when asked how much he's thinking about the possibility of every game being his last. "I'm in such a good place right now with this baseball program and where it's going to be handed off to. It might be a little bit different if I was actually leaving the district. My role is going to change in regards to the program, but one of my assistants is taking over and the other on is sticking around.
"I'm just proud of where we are right now and just happy to be playing."
Nate Lahr will be Morrison's replacement. He'll have some good pieces to work with next season, including Voss. The junior retired 11 Solon hitters in a row at one point, continually pouring strikes. Solon (27-13) never got a runner to third base against him and just two reached second.
WD got a run in the bottom of the first on a Nick Kleitsch RBI double, scored on a Todd Oberthien wild pitch in the fourth and a Brent Lammers RBI single in the fifth.
"It's pretty much just keep on throwing strikes," Voss said. "Just don't give them anything good to hit. Try and produce a lot of groundballs, stuff my defense can handle."
"It's like I told the kids 'You can't win a game without scoring a run,'" said Solon Coach Keith McSweeney. "We just didn't put any pressure on them offensively."
Marion (18-19) grabbed early momentum against Assumption with a run in the top of the first inning on back-to-back two-out doubles from Trev Biery and Alex Charipar. But the Knights seized permanent control with three return runs in the bottom of the first and three more in the third.
Control southpaw Levi Lochner (7-2) left too many pitches up in the zone against a strong-hitting Assumption club, though Marion Coach Steve Fish preferred to look at the five errors his team made instead.
"Levi couldn't really get his curve going and was elevated a little bit, but our biggest thing was you can't make five errors," Fish said. "We didn't execute when we needed to execute."
Fish also pointed to a failed suicide-squeeze attempt in the second inning that cost his team a run. Lochner gave up 10 hits and all eight runs, with five being earned.
Trev Biery had a pair of doubles and two walks for the Indians. Elliott Duax had a single, double, home run and two RBIs for Assumption, which came into the postseason on the heels of a six-game losing streak.
"I know it sounds cliché, but I tell them over and over again that we're playing against the game of baseball," Fish said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing, whether it's the Yankees or the Red Sox. I don't care who it is. We're playing against the game, and I think the game beat us again because the pressure got to us. You've got to be able to pick the ball up, you've got to be able to execute a squeeze. You've got to be able to do that in tournament baseball."