Patience at the plate, aggression on the base path and a quality outing from Josh Malm resulted in Monticello’s first win of the season. Behind multiple middle inning rallies, the Mustangs were able to turn what was a tight contest early into a near run-ruling during the 11-2 victory.
“We took advantage of the mistakes they made and ran with it,” said Monticello coach Corey Hunt. “Josh threw a great game and got ahead of hitters and that’s what it takes to win games… Josh, that was absolute quality and he’s going to battle regardless of what’s on the scoreboard, what’s going on the game. He battles whenever you put him out there.”
After Chancellor went up 1-0 on a walk and two errors in the top of the second, the Mustangs claimed the lead behind a leadoff double from Will Decker, a walk to Jacob Livengood and a 2-out 2-run single delivered by Max Mann.
The Chargers picked up their lone earned run of the game in the top of the third on a walk, single and sacrifice fly. Malm gave Chancellor just one base runner over his next three innings. The sophomore surrendered just two hits while he struck out six batters in six innings of work to pick up the win.
“It felt to good to get that first win, I felt comfortable up there on the mound,” Malm said. “(With my fastball) I wasn’t trying to just blow it by them, I was trying to hit my spots. I felt like I was able to do that today. When I hit my spots though I can give it a little extra.”
With the game tied at 2-2 in the third, Monticello gave Malm and the Mustangs pitching staff all the run support it needed the rest of the way though. Connor Lilley led off the bottom half of the inning with a single. Then a single from Sam Patterson, three straight walks and a pair of wild pitches resulted in a 3-run rally.
“We have some great speed but I thought today was a great showing of the entire team’s speed,” Hunt said. “I told the guys that I’m proud of the guys though because of the 2-out RBI. We had been struggling to create some offense, but they came through today. We had 20 quality at bats and when you have that many you have base runners. It’s easy to with runners where there are no outs. It’s a lot harder to do it with two outs. That’s about coming up clutch.”
In the fifth Monticello added a 2-run groundout from Devin Dickerson and picked up another big 2-out hit from Mann, this time an RBI triple.
Chancellor was hounded by wild pitches and defensive miscues in the sixth. Sam Patterson picked up the first run of the sixth on an odd sequence where the Chargers thought a strikeout had ended the inning when there were only two outs. That led Kyle Jacobson to try and move up from first to second, and drew the attention of the defense. Not only were they unable to pick Jacobson off, but Patterson snuck home from third. Jacobson scored himself thanks to a wild pitch. Decker picked up his fourth run of the evening when he was hit by a pitch and driven home when Bobby Andris reached first on an error.
“Coach Hunt was giving us signs to be really aggressive on the bases,” Decker said. “We were trying to force mistakes to happen and stay aggressive, waiting for the right opportunities. We also tried to stay aggressive (in the batters box) on waiting for the right pitch to come.”
Brandon Beasley came in to close the game on the mound in the seventh. The junior retired three of the four batters he faced to wrap up the win.
The Mustangs (1-3) begin a serious road trip today with their game against Courtland. It will also wrap up a stretch of four games in five days. Picking up the win sends Monticello travelling where they won’t play at home again until April 17th but with a solid sense of confidence.
“It’s been fun because you go from the offseason to suddenly playing baseball all the time,” Malm said of the busy schedule. “It was great to get this win for Coach Hunt and hopefully we can steamroll from here and move on to some more great wins.”