Wrigley goes wild for Morel's Little League homer

April 1st, 2024

CHICAGO -- has electrified the Wrigley Field audience multiple times throughout his young career. Monday marked his first chance to do something in a Cubs home opener.

Morel found his moment.

“I felt like a little kid,” Morel said via an interpreter after the Cubs’ 5-0 win over the Rockies.

It was easy to have that feeling when Morel hustled around the bases for a Little League-style home run in a game that required it. Playing in cold and increasingly wet conditions, Cubs manager Craig Counsell said it was the type of afternoon when a team cannot sit back and hope for a ball to clear the fence.

“It's like there's a rule that there's no such thing as a home run,” Counsell said. “Defensive mistakes, they can cost you, especially with runners on base. They can really cost you. Fortunately for us, we got one on the other side. And we took advantage.”

In the sixth inning, Morel ripped a pitch from Rockies righty Dakota Hudson into left with an exit velocity of 110.9 mph, per Statcast. Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ were on first and second base, respectively, and were prepared to move up 90 feet apiece on the play. That was until left fielder Nolan Jones charged in and the ball snuck under his glove for an error.

“I didn't think he was going to miss that catch,” Morel said. “Once I saw that he missed it, I just said, 'Hey, whatever God's plan is, I'm just going to keep going.’”

Happ scored easily on the play and Suzuki was nearly across the plate by the time Jones retrieved the ball at the base of the wall in left. The outfielder fired it to second baseman Brendon Rodgers, but the ball arrived low and skipped off Rodgers' glove and bounced back up the middle for another error.

Morel had made it to third, but saw he had a window of opportunity to complete the sprint.

“I think that's an overlooked part of that play,” Happ said, “where [Morel] rounds third, has his eyes on the ball, sees that it's far enough away that he can score. That's a big run for us.”

Morel hustled home and flexed and shouted in celebration. His run gave the Cubs’ a 3-0 lead, which was more than ample in supporting a stellar MLB debut from Shota Imanaga and adding another notch to the win column for Chicago. Cody Bellinger added a two-run single in the seventh for some more insurance.

“Just being here, my first home opener,” Morel said, “to be able to score in front of my teammates and in front of the fans, it’s definitely a moment that I'll never forget for the rest of my life. It was incredible.”