MONMOUTH — Monmouth had already clinched the top spot in the Western Maine Class C standings entering Monday’s regular-season finale against Oak Hill. But there’s been no letting up for this year’s team and that continued against the Raiders, who have emerged as one of the better teams in Class B this season.
The Mustangs watched the Raiders take a one-run lead in the fourth inning then got their bats going over the last three innings to claim an 8-5 victory.
“It was a playoff-type atmosphere,” said Oak Hill coach Matt Bray, whose team is 12-4. “I liked how the kids responded. In their house we kept them on the ropes for the most part.”
The Mustangs, 15-1, are scheduled to play in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game Wednesday at Thomas College. So far they’ve been a complete team with solid defense and pitching and timely hitting. They finished with 13 hits Monday, including four from leadoff hitter Brandon Goff, who fouled off several of the curveball offerings from Parker Asselin in search of a fastball.
“I haven’t exactly seen a lot of curveballs,” Goff said. “But coach has been working with us and after those first two (at bats) I figured it out.”
The Mustangs started senior Nate Gagne and got him a couple of early runs. Goff led the game with a base hit, stole second and scored on Hunter Richardson’s single. In the third Goff doubled to deep left and scored on a ground ball from Alex Curtis. Gagne allowed just a bunt single over the first three innings and cruised into the fourth with a 2-0 lead. But he struggled with his control, issuing two walks and hitting a batter before giving way to sophomore left-hander Nick Sanborn.
“Nathan was feeling a little under the weather today,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “He was dehydrated and kind of said to me âI’m done.’ “
The Raiders took a 3-2 lead on just two hits in the inning, a bunt from Asselin and an RBI single from Dalton Therrien. The Mustangs responded in their half of the inning and tied the game when Phil Rowe reached on an infield hit and scored on Goff’s two-out single to left. Asselin struggled in the fifth, surrendering a walk and four singles as Monmouth scored twice to take a 5-3 lead. D.J. McHugh, Rowe and Cole Arsenault singled on consecutive pitches with McHugh and Arsenault driving in runs.
“Our lineup hits pretty well,” Palleschi said. “It’s been all year long and it’s been everybody.”
Senior lefty Kyle Fletcher relieved Sanborn in the fifth and picked up the pitching win. He, too, was the beneficiary of hits and runs from his teammates who scored three more in the sixth to take an 8-3 lead. Goff collected his fourth hit while Alex Curtis singled home a run and Arsenault drew a bases loaded walk.
Oak Hill scored twice off Fletcher in the top of the seventh, the big blow a booming triple to center from Brady Dion.
“It’s just what you want at the end of the year,” Palleschi said. “They’ve been right in it in (Class) B. “