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Timeout Baseball: Morgan relies on leadoff man Ryan Klikus’ smarts, pitching, defense

Morgan Township shortstop Ryan Klikus has ball bounce off his club while charging ground third inning their game WashingtTownship Wednesday

Morgan Township shortstop Ryan Klikus has the ball bounce off his club while charging a ground in the third inning of their game at Washington Township Wednesday April 25, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 22, 2013 7:14AM



With each pitch, Ryan Klikus crept closer to home plate.

Standing on third base, the Morgan Township senior had a good read on the pitcher in a recent game against Calumet.

“I told coach I could get home,” Klikus said in a phone interview this week.

He got the green light to attempt a steal of home.

Klikus took off for the plate, slid headfirst and was safe.

“It was nice,” Klikus said of accomplishing the feat for the first time. “It was cool.”

The sequence, coach Jason Dorshorst said, is an example of Klikus’ baseball smarts.

“He picks up on a lot of things that the other guys won’t,” Dorshorst said. “… He’s one of those guys you don’t have to tell a whole lot. He picks up a lot of it on his own. It makes our job as coaches easier.”

Klikus said his baseball intelligence came from his dad, John. He’s also picked up a lot watching his favorite player, Derek Jeter.

“The more you watch the game,” Klikus said, “the more you understand.”

Klikus is one of the Cherokees’ team captains. Last year, he earned all-conference honors with a .426 batting average and 25 RBI as the team’s No. 3 hitter. This year, he’s been moved to the top of Morgan Township’s lineup. After a slow start, he has a .286 batting average.

“It’s been different. It’s been kind of challenging,” Klikus said. “At first, it was really hard the first few games. Every game now, I seem to be getting the hang of it more and more. Going from the three-spot to the leadoff spot, me being the person that I am when I look at baseball, I just see that the one-spot is completely different. My job is to see pitches and to find out what the pitcher has early.

“I’ve been worried about that more than my own hitting. I’m trying to see pitches. Right now, my batting average has been low, but as I start to jump on first-strike pitches, I’m starting to get hits again. My mentality has changed going from the one to three spot. I’m starting to pick it up better.”

Klikus has scored 12 runs. He has seven RBI. The coaching staff approached Klikus about the switch in the lineup in the winter.

“He had hit in the leadoff spot before, he was flat-out our best hitter, which is why he was in the three spot. He seemed excited about it,” Dorshorst said. “… He’s been the leader to get on base instead of being the guy who is going to drive in a bunch of runs.

“He’s done a really good job. He’s a guy who strikes out very few times (six times last year, just twice this season). He’ll have a different perspective. Instead of trying to drive in runs, he’s now doing whatever he can to get on base. Whether it’s taking a walk, working the count, all those things. He’s doing a good job with that.”

Klikus has avoided striking out as a hitter. He’s been piling up the strikeouts on the mound. Klikus has a team-leading 20 strikeouts.

“He can eat the innings up for us. He can throw a lot of innings because he’s not throwing a lot of pitches because he’s always within the strike zone,” Dorshorst said.

When he’s not on the mound, Klikus is the glue of the defense at shortstop.

“You pencil him in and don’t worry about anything over there,” Dorshorst said, “because he’s there.”



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