He struck out 30 hitters in his previous two starts, including throwing a 15-strikeout no-hit complete game against Clarke County. This time around, William Monroe’s Jack Morris threw the full kind no hitter, going all seven innings and shutting out scrappy archrival Madison County. Add to it his solo homerun in the fourth inning, and it’s suffice to say that Morris simply had things going his way in the Dragon’s 3-0 win at home against the Mountaineers.
“Jack’s just had three incredible games in a row for us,” said Monroe coach Mike Maynard. “His velocity’s been great, his curveball’s been great and he uses his changeup just enough to keep batters off stride.”
The energy level was already high coming into the contest given the rivalry, but when Monroe’s Ryan Leake and Madison’s Dylan Berry were both ejected in the bottom of the first, it was a given that this was going to be a tight game.
“It was a hell of a play, a great throw from Ashton Wheatley to Dylan and great slide (from Leake), it was a clean slide,” said Madison coach David Londrey.
While trying to slide into home on a Keegan Woolford single, Leake was tagged by Berry and after a brief confrontation between the two, both were tossed leaving Monroe without its senior leader at third base and Madison without it’s one true catcher.
Going up against Morris on the mound for Madison was Collin Shifflett who threw a great game and was suddenly working with Josh O’Donnell who filled in for Berry admirably.
“Everyone played their (hearts out) tonight for us,” Londrey said. “I couldn’t have asked for more. We brought in a kid (O’Donnell) who when I asked him when the last time he caught, he said it was in sixth grade. Do to the lineup situation I had to go with him and he did a great job for us.”
Shifflett kept Monroe off the board through the first three innings, getting out of a jam in the first behind his defense and retiring seven of eight batters between the end of the first and middle of the fourth.
“We’re not swinging the bats all that well right now,” Maynard said. “But (Shifflett) kept us off balance, had a great curve ball and when we did hit it was to their defense.”
It was with two outs in the fourth when Morris went the opposite way to right field to give him the lead he needed.
“It was a 2-1 count and Coach Maynard told me to be patient and wait for my pitch,” Morris said. “It came in and I took a hack at it and just got it on the nose.”
The Dragons got a pair of insurance runs in the sixth with a double from Woolford, RBI single from Austin Batten and sacrifice fly from Gary Morris.
“That definitely helped (at the end) because then you just have to go out there and throw strikes and let the defense play,” Jack Morris said.
That wasn’t a problem in the latter half of the game. Morris allowed the Mountaineers just three base runners, all in the first three innings on three walks.
“I started rough, just couldn’t get my location down,” Morris said. “But after the third, I just got in a rhythm. I’m best when I get that. I took a deep breath going into the fourth and it worked.”
Madison’s best scoring chance came in the third with back to back walks to start, but Morris responded by striking out three batters in a row. After those two walks, Morris fanned 11 of the last 13 batters he faced with his outfield accounting for the other two outs.
“We left the runners on base but we’ve played great the last few weeks,” Londrey said “We’ve just had a couple of unfortunate events and baseball does that sometimes.”
Madison (3-6, 0-4 Bull Run District) hosts Clarke County on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Monroe (10-0, 4-0) travels to Manassas Park on Thursday at 7 p.m.