FARMINGDALE — Five games into the season, the Monmouth Academy baseball team is still awaiting a serious test. Three of the Mustangs wins have come via the 10-run mercy rule and the other two haven’t been close.
On Wednesday, Hall-Dale stayed with the Mustangs for a few innings but never put together a rally against junior lefty Kyle Fletcher and Monmouth won 8-2.
“I felt I pitched pretty good,” said Fletcher, who scattered seven singles, walked two and struck out nine. “It’s probably not the best I’ve thrown, but I did what I had to do.”
The win was the third of the season for Fletcher, although the first two were settled in five innings due to the mercy rule.
“This is the first one he’s gone seven,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “We need to stretch him out a little.”
Fletcher didn’t allow the leadoff hitter to reach base until the seventh inning. By then, the outcome was settled. Sophomore left-hander Bobby Cumler (0-2) started for Hall-Dale (2-3) and struggled with his control.
“He couldn’t command the strike zone,” Hall-Dale coach Tim Johnson said. “He was behind in all the counts.”
Cumler escaped the first inning with a couple of nice outfield plays from Colin Lush in center and Zack McNaughton in left. But a pair of walks and base hits from Fletcher and Josh Fournier cost him two runs in the second. The Mustangs, who finished with eight hits, got three straight after two were out in the third inning to chase Cumler from the mound.
DJ McHugh started the rally with a base hit to left and scored on Devin West’s double to the gap in left center. West scored on Alex Wilson’s triple to the left-field corner and Taylor Lockhart came on for Cumler.
“We’re trying to develop,” Johnson said. “We took a major step backwards today. So tomorrow we come back out here and work a little harder.”
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 5-1 when Fletcher overthrew first on an attempted pickoff and Lush scored from second base.
Matt Plourde, who singled three times, scored Hall-Dale’s final run on an error in the fifth. Wilson, who drove in three runs, singled home a run in the fifth and another in Monmouth’s three-run sixth.
Everyone in Monmouth’s lineup reached base against a combination of five Hall-Dale pitchers. Wilson finished with a single and triple while teammate Billy Cummings singled and doubled.
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