GARY | Tuesday’s practice at Morgan Township included some tweaks to Jake Koselke’s curveball.
Coach Jason Dorshorst and his staff manipulated the sophomore pitcher’s grip and release point to make the pitch more effective.
The adjustments were well-timed as Koselke dominated Porter County Conference rival Kouts 9-3 for his first complete game of the season Wednesday night at U.S. Steel Yard in the McDonald’s RailCats High School Challenge.
“I was just trying to do what I could for the team, and luckily my curveball was working for me,” Koselke said. “It’s amazing here. This is the best pitching environment we see.”
Wednesday, a reboot of a previously suspended game, marked the end of the challenge, and 15 of the 16 originally scheduled games were completed.
In the last 18 meetings between Kouts and Morgan, the Cherokees now hold a 9-8-1 advantage.
“(Playing here) just makes the rivalry more intense,” Koselke said. “This was a great chance to play them here.”
Koselke faced the minimum through four innings. He allowed two hits and another baserunner on an error in that span, but he eliminated the first runner with a double play ground ball, then picked off the next two, his first two pickoffs of the year. He finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Koselke also scored twice and drove in a run.
Meanwhile, leadoff hitter and fellow sophomore Nick Conner reached five times via two hits, two errors and a walk. He scored three runs and dealt the biggest blow of the game with a two-out, two-run double in the second.
Morgan (8-8, 2-3) led 4-0 after Conner’s double and 7-0 after four.
“We tip our hats to Morgan; they came through with guys on, and we didn’t,” Kouts coach Matt Weston said. “(Conner’s hit) was a big hit and a big play. I was thinking, ‘If we can get this out, we’ll be OK.’”
Kouts (4-7-1, 1-4-1) scored three times in the last two innings with sophomore first baseman Dylan Bruce (3-for-3) driving in two.
Morgan improved to .500 by taking advantage of four hit batters and four walks by Kouts pitching.
“In years past we've played our best baseball toward the end of the year,” Dorshorst said. “Now we’re starting to see things moving in the right direction because we’re doing a lot of the little things.”