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First hit, first homer: Korey Morton helps Gatemen in key road win against Bourne

Korey Morton (UConn) bats during Wareham’s 7-1 loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Bourne Braves, July 24, 2023 at Doran Park in Bourne. Photo by Maddy Djuric.

Since his arrival in Wareham in the beginning of June, Korey Morton has been one of the quieter members of the Gatemen squad. He’s not overly energetic or talkative in the dugout; instead he keeps to himself and doesn’t show a lot of emotion.

Up until Monday night in Bourne, he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do so. The outfielder out of UConn struggled at the plate in the first four games he played in, unable to record a hit in 13 at-bats. He reached base via walk twice, but hadn’t put enough barrel on the ball to send it flying.

In the Gatemen’s first game of the Monday doubleheader, Morton went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts as he went up against a talented Braves pitching staff. The Gatemen lost the seven inning game 7-1, but didn’t alter too much of their lineup heading into game two. Morton remained in the lineup, still searching for that first hit while hoping to help lead his team to victory.

So when he came up to the plate in the second inning with runners on second and third, Morton had one of the best opportunities of the night for the Gatemen to seize momentum. Any sort of hit would have done the job; a bunt, a single, even a sacrifice fly ball could have brought at least one run across the plate and handed the Gatemen the early lead.

Morton decided that wasn’t enough. After sitting on a called strike, Morton finally made that bat-on-ball contact he had been searching for and sent the ball sailing over the left field fence. Michael Brooks (Kansas) and Grant Sherrod (USC Upstate) joined Morton in making the trip around the bases, and were all waiting to celebrate with him at home plate.

True to Morton’s nature, however, the celebration was subdued. The Husky had a slight smile on his face as he came home, but the biggest emotion on his face was relief.

“Just to get on the board, the first hit is always exciting,” Morton said. “It was good, got some runs so that’s all that matters.”

Korey Morton (UConn) heads back to the dugout after hitting a home run during Wareham’s 7-0 win in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Bourne Braves, July 24, 2023 at Doran Park in Bourne. Photo by Maddy Djuric.

Morton’s home run sparked the Gatemen offense, propelling them to a dominant 7-0 win over the Braves for the team’s first road win since Opening Night June 10 and the first shutout of the season. While Morton was unable to garner another hit, he continued to make an impact on the game and his coaches.

A walk allowed him to come around to score in the fifth inning while a hard-hit line drive to right field was read just right by the Bourne right fielder, effectively taking another hit away from Morton. 

“It’s hard to come out here at this point in the year and just hit, but I think that was a big one,” manager Ryan Smyth said. “But he could go off here in the next couple of days and that would be really cool to see.”

Morton has all of the potential to explode at the plate, as he finished the 2023 collegiate baseball season batting .290 with 65 hits, 10 home runs, 45 RBI and a .513 slugging percentage. He started all 61 games for the Huskies in the outfield and was named to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team. The rising senior has had three successful seasons with UConn, but his showing in 2023 was his best, and most consistent. 

And of course, it’s a big part of why Smyth chose to pick him up and bring him to the Cape.

“We wanted a right-handed stick, we wanted somebody that had some speed and wanted to get back to stealing some bases,” Smyth said. “And he was kind of the perfect mold for that, so we jumped on it.”

Morton stole 23 bases in 2023 for second-most on his team, and recorded his first stolen base of his Gatemen career Monday night. The former indoor track star has also demonstrated his speed in the outfield, tracking down fly balls and making key catches. As the 2023 CCBL season comes to a close, the Gatemen need consistent and reliable players all across the board and Morton is poised to be just that. 

And any sort of breakout is better late than never.