Doubleheader sweep of Leyden boosts Morton's conference confidence
Mustangs improve to 7-4 in West Suburban Gold with third series win
|Morton second baseman Angel Munoz fields a ground ball against Downers Grove South April 13 in Berwyn. (Bill Ackerman - firstname.lastname@example.org)|
BERWYN — The longer the season goes, the more confidence Morton baseball gains.
The Mustangs clinched another morale-boosting series win in the West Suburban Gold by sweeping Saturday's doubleheader against Leyden. Following the 3-1 and 5-2 victories, Morton (8-6, 7-4) has won three of its four conference series.
This season's success has been a surprise considering the struggles of the senior class at the lower levels and the lack of wins for the varsity team last spring.
"Some of these kids if you look at their first three years in the program they probably combined won 10 or 12 games," said coach Mike Casey. "You can see they're enjoying the game a little bit more. They have confidence, which for some of them I haven't seen. Bringing confidence to the plate, bringing confidence to the field. They were always on the opposite end of things. It's definitely fun and cool to see them have success."
One of the major keys for Morton has been the pitching staff. Eli McMahon and Anthony Iniquez both fired quality starts to key the wins Saturday. Both pitchers were able to throw strikes and let the Mustang defense do its job.
"A lot of young pitchers they think they're trying to strike everyone out so I preach to try to get them to pitch to contact," Casey said. "I think that's sometimes hard for the boys to understand. If they can do that they're going to be putting the ball in play more, which means your pitch count will be lower, which means you can go deeper into games."
The Mustangs have an inside competition trying to get a three-pitch inning. McMahon had two pitches and two outs in an inning on Saturday to elicit some excitement in the dugout at the possibility of reaching the goal. However, a Leyden batter took the first pitch in the next at-bat to eliminate the chance of a three-pitch inning.
"At least they're starting to understand the concept a little bit," Casey said.
Game 2 starter Iniquez has been a key part of Morton's team as a hitter as well. Standout junior Sergio Villalobos required five stitches on his throwing hand after the webbing between his fingers split on a groundball on Wednesday. Villalobos might be able to return for this weekend's big series against second-place Hinsdale South. If he doesn't return Iniquez will be one of the Mustangs' required to step up in his absence.
"He's a kid that if he gets hot it changes our lineup," Casey said "Anthony Iniquez absolutely raked (on Saturday)."
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