Fruita's Morrill puts poor pitching inning behind him with go-ahead HR
Trey Morrill’s third-inning pitching performance for Fruita Monument High School’s baseball team Tuesday is one he’d just as soon forget, but he followed that bad inning against the Central Warriors with a hit to remember.
Morrill, whose three free passes in that third inning helped the eighth-ranked Warriors tie the game at 2-2, responded with tiebreaking solo home run in the bottom of the inning that proved the difference in the Wildcats’ 3-2 Southwestern League victory at Suplizio Field.
“I’m so proud of my guys of backing me up and not giving up on me,” said Morrill, who at one point in the third threw 10 consecutive pitches out of the strike zone. “At that point, I was just trying to do too much there. I was trying to strike everyone out and not just let them hit it.”
Morrill’s big hit lifted the Wildcats (10-4, 3-0 SWL) into sole possession of first place in the league standings. The home run was one of 10 hits for Fruita, which got five singles in the second inning that rallied the Wildcats to an early 2-1 lead.
And other than the third inning, Morrill managed to stay out of major trouble. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowed three hits, hit three batters, walked four and struck out 10, but the Warriors never got past second base after the fourth inning.
His home run gave him the confidence to get into a groove on the mound after his rough inning.
“That shows his maturity,” Fruita coach Ray McLennan said. “All of these guys are growing up, but Trey is just a junior and he’s done a good job this year of keeping his composure. Baseball is a game where bad things happen, and you have to be able to work through those bad things if you’re going to be successful, and he did.”
Caleb Dwyer was solid on the mound for Central (10-3, 2-1). The junior tossed 6 2/3 innings and allowed 10 hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts. He stranded nine Fruita base runners to help keep the Warriors within striking distance, but Central afterward was lamenting its own missed opportunities.
“We had two base runners who were thrown out at third base, and that kind of killed us,” Warriors coach Chuck Yost said. “Trey pitched a great game, but we kind of let him off the hook there. In a tight game you can’t have outs like that, but we also didn’t get the timely hit that really would have helped us.”
Morrill gave way to Cade Oxford when his pitch count reached 111, and the Fruita senior got the final two outs for the save.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Koby Steves scored from second base on a sacrifice fly when the right fielder dove to catch a fly ball at the warning track. Fruita responded in the bottom of the second with consecutive singles from Zach Coutts, Tyler Boggs, Marcus Lee and Tyler Tuell before going up 2-1 on Sackett’s RBI single one out later.
That’s where Morrill ran into trouble. He walked Seth Barker and hit Ryan Kirby, and his free pass to Hunter Kelchner brought Cade Balleweg in from third base to tie it at 2-2. But with the bases still loaded, Boggs’ quick throw to Tony Guadnola at third base caught Barker off the base for the final out of the inning.
“The ball hit the ground and I think he thought it got by me when it actually dropped right in front of me,” Boggs said. “I just saw him take a chance.”
Morrill followed by hitting the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the third over the wall in Suplizio Field’s left-center-field power alley.
“I have a lot of history with these guys,” Morrill said. “I was a bat boy for them when I was in second grade, and I know the coaches. They know how to pitch to me because I took batting practice with them at one point. I think it’s a bigger rivalry for me because that’s a great team with great coaches. We just happened to come out on top.”