Calvary baseball coach Todd Walker and first baseman Garrett Williams agree the Cavaliers’ best defensive alignment comes when Stephen Morrison is on the mound, as he was Saturday afternoon.
The Cavaliers offense wasn’t bad either, as Calvary took advantage of Rosepine’s off day defensively in a 10-0, run-rule-shortened Class 2A quarterfinal victory.
“Our best defense is when he’s on the mound, and everyone else is playing their position behind him,” said Williams, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run, a stolen base and a nifty diving catch in the field. “We’re a lot better team when he’s on the mound, and he did a great job to shut them out.”
Morrison (10-1) faced the minimum Saturday thanks to his defensive mates.
Shortstop Robby Horn set the tone, turning a slow Tye Holliday chopper into a inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the first. After Jesse Fruge led off the third with Rosepine’s second and final hit of the game, Calvary catcher Weston Steelhammer erased him with a sharp pickoff throw to first.
Buoyed by his defense, Morrison needed just 52 pitches to make it through the five-inning contest.
“Everything felt good,” Morrison said. “Fastball was on. Curveball was a little off, but it sharpened up throughout the game.”
Morrison said his normal bullpen session takes “about 50 pitches,” and thanks to Rosepine’s defensive struggles, Calvary’s right-handed ace didn’t need many more than that.
The ninth-seeded Eagles (27-5), who saw their 17-game win streak end, built a reputation as a solid defensive club, but their gloves let them down Saturday.
Fruge (8-2) worked out of jams in the first and second inning, keeping the Eagles within 1-0 before three third-inning errors helped produce three runs for Calvary (28-5).
“(Fruge) did a really good job of pitching early,” Rosepine coach Jeff Smith said. “We just let him down defensively. We didn’t make some plays we’ve made all year, and it came back to bite us.”
So did one hanging curveball.
After Robby Horn reached on an error to start the third inning, Fruge left a curveball up to Williams, who drove the ball out of the park but hooked it foul.
Two pitches later, Fruge went back to the curveball. It hung again, and Williams hammered it over the right-center field fence for his seventh home run of the season to put the Cavaliers up 3-0.
“I was expecting the curveball,” Williams said. “He’s got a decent one. I just tried to keep my front shoulder in, and that’s what happened. I don’t try to hit home runs. All I try to do is hit line drives and hard balls. That one just got out of the park.”
After struggling to convert their scoring opportunities early, the Cavaliers hit their stride in the fourth inning — a six-run outburst highlighted by a two-run Luke Williams single and a two-run Ryan Leone double.
The Cavaliers will be headed down I-20 with plenty of momentum, notching their second double-digit offensive output in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
“People will walk away from this game, saying, ‘Oh, they beat them 10-0 after five,'” Calvary coach Todd Walker said. “Rosepine is a great team. We just played the best game of the year, and this is when you want to do that — when you’re in the playoffs.”