Posted on: March 29, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0
Andrew Tenison celebrates a three-run homer with teammate John Gonsalves.

By Jack Zampillo, Opinion Editor

Despite the frigid March air, the bats were on fire in Friday’s doubleheader between Moraine Valley and the Morton College Panthers. 

The Cyclones took one of two games at the Kroc Center, stealing the first in exhilarating fashion by a score of 6-5, and dropping the second 9-7. 

Game one was intensely contested throughout, and the energy from both sides was electric. Morton gained momentum in the top half of the 7th inning, breaking a 4-4 tie with an RBI single to right field. But with just three outs to give, the Cyclone hitters were resilient. 

Freshman John Gonsalves started the rally with a leadoff double and came around to score on a costly error from the Panthers. With the game on the line, Chris Villafuerte delivered. Villafuerte showcased incredible speed, hustling out a swinging bunt just past the pitcher to bring home the winning run. 

Head coach Hugh Dennehy was eager to boast of his team’s win post-game, stating, “My team was resilient, didn’t give up, and fought the whole way through. [Villafuerte] is one of the best bats we’ve got. He’s very consistent, always battles, and finds a way to put the bat on the ball.” 

The tables rapidly turned in game two, however, as the Panthers came back for vengeance. 

MV sophomore Alex Martinez at the plate during Friday’s doubleheader (Credit: Jack Zampillo).

Morton struck quickly, blasting a two-run shot off starting pitcher Brett Renken in the first inning, followed by some extra insurance in the second. Gonsalves provided an early spark for Moraine, connecting on a long leadoff home run in the Cyclones’ half of the second inning. Ahead 3-1, the Panther bats pounced on Cyclone pitching in the 4th inning. A slew of hits, timely base stealing, and smart base running plated six runs for the Panthers, which effectively silenced Moraine’s dugout. 

A 9-2 game heading into the 6th inning saw Morton playfully coasting to a victory. The Panther dugout continuously shouted degrading banter the Cyclones’ way, unknowingly igniting new life.

We’re never going to quit. We always keep battling, and I’m happy with the way my team fought today.”

Hugh Dennehy, Head Coach

The determined MV hitters came out on fire in the bottom of the 6th inning. Infielder Alex Martinez led off with a single and scored on a costly error from the Panthers. Gonsalves once again doubled, and with traffic on the base paths, the Cyclones’ home run leader delivered. The southpaw slugger Andrew Tenison sent the first pitch he saw to the moon for a three-run homer, narrowing the gap to just 3. Moraine would score one more run to make the score 9-7, but came up short. 

The Cyclones threatened baserunners with their last at-bats, but the Morton College Panthers took game two by a final score of 9-7. 

“Our pitchers gave up too many walks, and we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities given to us,” Dennehy admitted after the game. “But we’re never going to quit. We always keep battling, and I’m happy with the way my team fought today.” 

Starting pitcher Brett Renken tossed his shortest outing of the season, surrendering three runs on just two innings of work. Despite the tough start, the Cyclones’ ace still leads the team in strikeouts and recognizes the importance of a short memory. 

“I just gotta turn the page,” Renken said. “I need to warm up better, forget about this one and come out focused and ready to throw the ball in my next outing.” 

Tenison’s three-run shot in the bottom of the 6th inning tallied his team-high third home run of the season. Tenison credits this to recent adjustments at the plate: “I’ve gotten away from a handsy swing, [I’m now] using my legs to generate the power I know I have.” 

The Cyclones have been hot lately, and look to carry that momentum into Wednesday’s away game against Kankakee Community College.

“I’m pretty confident going into next week,” Tenison admitted. “That was our first loss in the last seven games. We just need to hammer the baseball around the field and minimize walks and errors.”