MORRIS — As Tuesday's Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover baseball game between Morris and Rochelle wore on, it became clear that neither pitcher was going to allow much.
Morris' Dawson Moore and Rochelle's John Beck locked horns in a classic pitcher's duel, with Moore firing a 2-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts and three walks as Morris claimed a 1-0, walk-off victory. The left-handed Beck, meanwhile, allowed just three hits and struck out five against four walks.
After six and a half scoreless innings, Morris' Payton Voitik led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to right. He went to second when Jared Lines reached on an error. Beck then had to leave the game after reaching the 105-pitch count.
Reliever John Kisner threw a wild pitch, which moved Voitik and Lines to third and second, respectively, and Logan Edwards was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Nathan Wantland stepped to the plate and fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches before working the count to 2-2. On the next pitch, he hit a fly ball to center field, and Voitik tagged and scored the winning run.
"They had a new pitcher in there and I wanted to see some pitches," Wantland said. "I knew I had to get the ball in play and get a run home. I tried to put the ball up the middle. I was able to foul off a couple of pitches until I got one I could handle.
"It was nice to get the win, especially with the way Dawson was pitching. When he's on, he makes it easy to play defense. You are always alert because he throws a lot of strikes."
Wantland made one of the highlight plays for the Morris defense. In the top of the fifth, Rochelle's Noah Mershon led off with a walk. The next batter, Blake Albers, sent a drive to left-center. With the ball carrying away from him, Wantland ran it down and made a back-handed catch, preventing what could have been an extra-base hit and a run. Moore then struck out the next to batters to get out of the inning.
Morris (9-4) had some chances early, but had runners thrown out between third and home in both the second and third innings. With runners on first and third with two outs in the second, Lines broke for second and, on the throw, Voitik started for home, but Rochelle shortstop Zach Bernadin threw home in time to get Voitik for the third out. In the third, Wantland led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Patrick McCabe. After a wild pitch sent Wantland to third, Morris attempted a suicide squeeze. The bunt attempt failed and Wantland was thrown out trying to get back to third.
"Both pitchers were throwing well and we knew we had to do something to get a run," Morris coach Todd Kein said. "We had a first and third situation and they caught us, and we tried a squeeze and they caught us. It was a great pitch by their guy on the squeeze.
"We still need to work on spraying the ball around up and down the lineup. Our pitching and defense have been solid, so if we can move the ball around, we should be fine."
Moore threw 104 pitches in his seven innings of work, striking out two batters in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings, three in the sixth and one in the seventh.
"Dawson had a good outing again," Kein said. "He had a couple of innings where he put the leadoff guy on, and teams will make you pay for that. But all in all, he threw very well.
"We got the run when we needed it. Payton Voitik had a good at-bat to lead off the inning and Nathan Wantland had a good approach at the end. A win is a win."