Triton trumps Plymouth 9-7

PLYMOUTH — Coming from one baseball country to another, Japanese foreign exchange student Keita Morikawa already had the skill set to play outfield. It’s just taken him a little while for his bat to catch up with his glove.
On Friday, Morikawa’s batting proved to be the difference as the Triton eight hole hitter’s go-ahead sacrifice fly to left in the top of the sixth broke a 7-7 tie and put the Trojans over the top in an eventual 9-7 win over host Plymouth at Bill Nixon Field.
All total, Morikawa went 1 for 2 officially, scoring off a drawn walk in the second and reaching on an error on a grounder to third during a two-run third inning by the visitors.
“I don’t know how many years that we got foreign exchange students and none of them ever helped us, but finally we got one,” said Triton head coach Jim Shively with a smile. “He’s from Japan, and he’s got a lot of skill. He’s a little lost on some of the things that we’re doing, but he’s starting to come around.
“He apparently told one of the kids ‘We pitch a lot better and play defense a lot better, but you guys hit better than us,’ and the other day he was like ‘Hey, I’m starting to hit better, aren’t I?’ and I said ‘Yep.’ That’s good. If he can come around and hit for us, that’s going to be huge.”
Triton got off to a fast start with seven runs in the first three innings as the Trojans capitalized on a bumpy first start by Plymouth senior pitcher Hayden Skirvin.
Skrivin surrendered seven walks with one hit batsman and gave up another three bases on wild pitches working into the third inning as Triton stretched three hits into a 7-2 lead headed into the fourth.
“We’ve faced Skirvin before and we knew you’ve got to be patient with him,” said Shively. “We did a good job to be disciplined with that. We still didn’t hit the ball. We left the bases loaded a couple times and with less than two outs. We’ve got to get those in, we’ve got to improve there, but at least we got enough to get going.”
It was the second straight loss for the inexperienced Pilgrims’ pitching staff after a 10-0 diming by visiting St. Joseph’s Wednesday.
To make matters worse, the Plymouth defense committed five errors for three unearned runs by the Trojans, including two unearned scores off three errors by veteran third baseman Joe Knapp during a tough third inning in which a booted ground ball by the junior snowballed into three fielding errors in four batters.
“Two games in a row we just didn’t get the pitching performance we needed or wanted. We just got behind the eight ball to start the game,” said Plymouth head coach Tony Plothow. “I know Hayden’s disappointed, and I know two nights ago we were disappointed with that. But we get some things figured out that way and then when they do put the ball in play and when we do make a good pitch we’ve got to be able to field it. I think our strength this year, honestly, I think will be defense, and tonight Joe Knapp had several very uncharacteristic errors. He had a great season last year for us, and he’s going to have a great season this year, it’s just he had a tough inning.”
While Plymouth struggled early with pitching, Triton’s Zak Shively hit the skids during the fourth inning to give the Pilgrims new life.
Down 7-2, Plymouth scratched out five runs off four walks, a hit batsman, a wild pitch and a passed ball at the plate. Shively walked the bases loaded with four straight balls to Skirvin in the eight spot, walked in senior short stop Connor Flynn on a Blake Milliser at-bat to cut the lead to 7-3, and hit Dan Smith as the top of the order came back around to cut the lead further to 7-4. Skirvin scored and Milliser and Smith both advanced on a passed ball at the plate, leaving both in position to score when a routine Knapp grounder to short turned into an overthrow to knot the score at 7-all.
“We gave them a big inning back where Zak fell apart a little bit on the mound. He regained it and gave us another inning, but I thought we evened it out a little bit,” said Shively.
“I think we were very opportunistic. We did take advantage of a couple mistakes and we did put the ball in play, made them make plays, and we ran the bases pretty well,” said Plothow. “We gave ourselves a chance.”
After Morikawa’s go-ahead sac fly in the top of the sixth, Plymouth’s last best chance came in the bottom of the inning as three hole hitter Chase Peters came up with the bases loaded and one out.
But Peters’ hard-hit chopper to third turned into a heads-up double play as Triton third baseman Bryson Mosier threw home to Cody Shively for the force out, and Shively’s throw to Seth Glingle at first beat out Peters to turn two and close the frame without a run.
Triton scratched out an insurance run in the seventh as Marc Lindsey reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on a Cody Shively single to shallow right. The bottom of the Plymouth order went down in order in the seventh as Triton moved to an even 2-2 on the season and the Pilgrims dropped to 1-2.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation in the bottom of the sixth, down one run with our number three hitter Chase Peters up, who’s been a three-year starter,” Plothow said. “He’s going to have some big hits this year, but he unfortunately hits the ball right at them, one hop, and to double Chase off obviously shows how hard the ball was hit with a ground ball to third.”
Plymouth lefty Jordan Scheetz replaced Skirvin on the mound in the third and gave up three runs, all unearned, off five hits with four strike outs and two walks.
Triton closer Creighbaum moved onto the mound from short in the sixth and got the save in four batters faced.
Triton will play three games next week on the road at Tippecanoe Valley and Caston Monday and Tuesday and at home against Concord Friday. Plymouth is scheduled for three games as well at home against Rochester and Bremen Tuesday and Wednesday and Argos Friday.
At Plymouth
Triton: 322 000 11 — 9 7 3
Plymouth: 200 500 00 — 7 4 5
Zak Shively (W, 1-0), Cole Creighbaum (S) and Cody Shively; Hayden Skirvin (L, 0-1
), Jordan Scheetz (3) and Jacob Seagraves.
2B: Connor Flynn (P)
Records: Plymouth 1-2, Triton 2-2