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OTTAWA — Ottawa baseball coach Don Heaberlin has spent the beginning of the spring waiting for his much talked about and talented team to step up and make the routine plays and be the dangerous team many thought the Pirates were going to be.
Now as the weather is starting to warm up, Heaberlin is getting the defense that he was hoping to see.
The improved defensive play Tuesday resulted in a 7-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division victory over rival Streator at King Field.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” Heaberlin said. “In both our losses to St. Bede and Morris, we were in control and then routine plays cost us. This team has the potential to be a very good team if we continue to play defense and get the pitching we have gotten all season to go along with an on-base percentage of over .400 as a team.”
Seth Coffey led off the bottom of the first with a single to right and Michael Hermosillo drew a walk. Coffey then scored on a wild pitch to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
“People don’t realize it, but Seth Coffey is just a junior and the biggest thing coming from sophomore level to varsity is speed,” Heaberlin said. “Now that we are getting some games and live ball outside, he is looking more comfortable and that is really going to help this team out.”
Streator had a golden chance in the second inning to tie the game as the top two batters picked up singles.
Colton Olson then singled to left, but Tabor Griglione hit cutoff man Nick Harsted, who fired to Colton Trager at home to keep the 1-0 lead intact for the Pirates.
The Pirates added another run in the third as Coffey tripled down the right-field line and then scored as the next batter, Brazon Wheeler, singled to center field to push the Pirates lead to 2-0.
Cahill Horner walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth and then Trager put down a bunt single. Tyler Skolek hit a two-run single to right and Wheeler put the Pirates up 6-0 with an RBI double.
The Bulldogs picked up an unearned run in the sixth, but in the bottom half of the inning, Hermosillo got that run back with an RBI triple as the Pirates took the game 7-1.
Coffey, Hermosillo and Trager each had two hits for the Pirates, while Kyle Wallbaum went seven innings to pick up the win on the mound.