Morris, Dunn lead Old Liners to victory in Fall World Series opener

Mike Vasturia’s curveball dropped in, freezing Randy Bednar for strike three. The 6-foot-7 right-hander pumped his fist, having worked out of a bases loaded jam to close out the game and send the Old Liners home with a 5-2 victory over the Aggies in the opener of Maryland’s Fall World Series.

Second baseman Nick Dunn and catcher Justin Morris, both coming off summer playoff MVP honors, stayed hot in the opener , driving in three runs collectively in the victory, while right-hander Taylor Bloom tossed four solid innings of two-run ball. Second baseman Kevin Biondic collected three hits for the Aggies, and third baseman Taylor Wright drove in both runs.

Morris, who won Ripken League LCS MVP in July, got the Old Liners off to an hot start in the second. After Richie Schiekofer singled with one out and came around to score on an error, the senior catcher lined a two-out double down the right field line, scoring Dunn to give them an early 2-0 lead.

“Two out hits, that’s what can win a game,” Morris said. “I was just looking for a fastball to hit and try not to do too much with it. It’s pretty easy to hit with this lineup we’ve got over here, if it’s not you that’s gonna get the hit, the next guy’s gonna step up.”

They added another in the third on Bubba Alleyne’s RBI single through the right side, which scored fellow freshman Michael Pineiro. Clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth, Dunn, the reigning Cape Cod League LCS MVP, lined a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole, extending their lead to 5-2.

Aggie starter Elliot Zoellner lasted just two-plus innings, getting pulled after Alleyne’s single in the third. A pair of freshman lefties, Grant Burleson and Randy Bednar, went the rest of the way for the Aggies.

Bloom, meanwhile, cruised through the Aggie lineup for the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. Zach Jancarski, Tommy Gardiner and Biondic opened the frame with back-to-back-to-back singles to center to load the bases. Bloom struck out Will Watson, but Wright followed with a double just past the diving Pineiro at first, scoring two runs, and knotting the game at 2 for the time being.

Ryan Hill, a mainstay in the Terps bullpen a year ago, came on in relief of Bloom and worked a scoreless fifth, teaming up with Morris for a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. He struggled to find the strike zone to open the top of the sixth, however, walking the bases loaded to open the inning, hastening his exit in favor of Vasturia. The redshirt freshman went to a full count on Watson, the first batter he faced, but set him down. After inducing a pop up from Wright for out number two, he struck out Bednar to seal the deal in the six inning contest.

“I know I’m coming in for a reason, so I just do the best that I can do,” Vasturia said after the game. “It feels awesome [being the one to close it out], I think it gives our team a ton of confidence going up 1-0, but they’re gonna come out hungry tomorrow and they’re a really good team too, so we’ve gotta come out and be ready to play.”

The Old Liners and Aggies will be back at it Thursday at 4 p.m. for Game 2 of the Fall World Series.