WESTVILLE — To say that the Morgan Twp. baseball team was looking forward to Monday’s Class A sectional title game against Washington Twp. would be something of an understatement.
The Senators, winners of four straight sectional titles, have long been the alpha in the rivalry with the Cherokees. That was showcased earlier this season when Washington Twp. mercy-ruled Morgan Twp., leading Morgan Twp. coach Cory Mack to say that the Cherokees "had something of a mental block” when it came to competing against their Porter County Conference rival.
The Cherokees got their revenge Monday afternoon as Morgan Twp. knocked off the Senators 8-0 to capture its first sectional title since 2013.
“Washington has always been the gauge for us,” Mack said. “We played them earlier and at that moment, we weren’t nearly as good as we are now. I said we had something of a mental block against those guys and my team came to me and said they didn’t appreciate me calling them out like that. They said, ‘We’re going to prove you wrong.’ They certainly did that today.”
Junior Dylan Kutkiewicz broke open a scoreless affair in the top of the fourth inning with a solo home run and the Cherokees (20-5) added another run in the fifth inning when junior Cody Maxwell singled in senior Connor Malmquist.
“Cory is always trying to get us motivated and to get us pumped up with what he says,” Maxwell said. “It has to take a lot more than just Coach (Mack) talking to win this. We haven’t beaten them too many times.”
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Morgan Twp. pitcher Hunter Swivel, a junior, allowed just one hit through the first five innings, while his defense did a good job erasing any other base runners. The Cherokees turned double plays in the first two innings and then Swivel got out of a jam in the fourth inning when the Senators (20-8) had two runners in scoring position.
“It only takes one inning for (Washington Twp.) to get going,” Mack said. “They’e the Yankees. They’re always the team you have to go through.”
The big inning finally came, but it was the Cherokees who delivered Monday. Morgan Twp. batted around in the sixth inning, scoring six runs in what was a gradual knockout punch that made for an anticlimactic end to the game. When the Senators were retired for good in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Morgan Twp. sidelines barely acknowledged the moment.
“Once the runs kept coming, I kept my eye on the Washington dugout,” Mack said. “The train was moving and we kept putting the coal into the chute. You could see their confidence oozing out of them. There was a little less air in the tire.”
If there was a definitive nail that went into the tire, it was when Colton Rosenbaum blasted a two-run home run to jump-start the rally in the sixth inning. The senior captain finished the day 4 for 4 with a run scored and two RBI.
“We knew that we had a bad game the first time we played them,” Rosenbaum said of the 10-0, five-inning loss on April 20. “We licked our wounds and we went back to work. We worked all season to get to this point where everything just clicked. We knew we had some mental blocks and we came out today and played our very best. This just means everything.”