DeKALB – Austin Hop didn’t know he would be starting Monday’s game against Morris until he received a text from DeKalb coach Jake Howells a few hours beforehand.
Hop started for Zach Moan, who was dealing with a minor neck issue, and made his first start of the season. It didn’t show, as he was able to fool the Morris batters with his offspeed stuff – mainly a knuckleball – in a 1-0 DeKalb victory. Hop allowed four hits, walked five and finished with six strikeouts.
“I didn’t plan to start today. I got the text at about 1:30 and just kind of got ready, got mentally prepared,” Hop said. “Came out threw strikes. It’s all on my defense; they made a lot of good plays when [Morris] had the baserunners. I threw too many walks.”
Morris was able to pound out hit after hit in Friday’s win over Sycamore, but that consistency didn’t carry over into Monday’s series opener, as the Redskins couldn’t manage to get the clutch hit.
DeKalb (6-7, 1-6 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) had only four hits against Morris (11-7, 3-3 NI Big 12 East) starter Nick Evola, but was able to push across what ended up being the game-winning run in the bottom of the second when Dylan Farrell singled home Noah Baert, who singled to lead off the inning. Jared Johnson and Patrick Aves had the other hits for the Barbs.
Although Morris came off a series win against a strong Sycamore team last week, DeKalb came into Monday’s game winless in the NI Big 12 East before getting its first conference win. The two teams continue their series at 4:30 p.m. today in Morris.
“I think when you look at the conference top to bottom, it’s really good all the time,” DeKalb coach Jake Howells said. “... You have to play well in all parts of the game in order to win in our conference. That’s just the bottom line.”