FARMINGDALE — Eric Palleschi sees the No. 6 seeding beside his Monmouth Academy baseball team. The Mustangs’ coach just doesn’t put too much stock into it.

Class C is wide open, he noted. And with each day, Palleschi thinks his team looks more and more like one that could be left standing late.

“I feel like we’re starting to take off,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of scrimmages where we’ve played well, and this team is finally coming together as a team and starting to play.”

The Mustangs looked the part in their playoff opener Thursday afternoon, taking an early lead, holding off Hall-Dale rallies and then taking advantage of mounting Bulldogs mistakes to earn an 8-4 victory that puts them in the C South semifinals.

It was only a year ago that the Mustangs (10-7) were 16-0 heading into the postseason, and after an up-and-down start to the season, that confidence is starting to sink in throughout an experienced roster.

“I feel we’re a very dangerous team,” said senior Hunter Richardson, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and picked up the win. “We’re starting to tie it together and I think we’re going to be an extremely dangerous team going forward.”

No. 3 Hall-Dale (10-6) didn’t make it easy — not early on, at least. Monmouth had a 2-0 lead before Akira Warren erased it with a two-run double in the third, and saw the 3-2 lead it took in the fourth inning vanish with another Bulldogs run in the bottom half.

The Monmouth hitters kept up the pressure, however, staying aggressive against Hall-Dale starter Dean Jackman and forcing the defense to make the plays, and the Bulldogs soon buckled. In the top of the sixth with the score knotted at 3, Avery Pomerleau reached when his sinking liner to right field was lost in the sun and misplayed, and a pair of walks to Richardson and Nick Dovinsky loaded the bases. Travis Hartford followed with a hard grounder to third that got through for an error, scoring Pomerleau and Richardson to make it 5-3.

“(It was) not quitting. If they score a run, we’ll fight right back,” said Pomerleau, who scored four runs. “Being aggressive at the plate really helps, especially with a guy like Jackman, he knows how to hit the outside corner. He wasn’t too wild at the beginning, but just driving the pitch count up … it helps.”

Monmouth put the game out of reach in the seventh, again getting help from Hall-Dale in the process as a pair of errors at shortstop, one throwing and one fielding, opened the gates for three more unearned runs and an 8-3 advantage. Hall-Dale scratched across a final run in the seventh, but there was too much ground to make up. The Bulldogs made seven errors, and allowed the final six runs — all unearned — to score without surrendering a hit.

“It was tough. We had played better games throughout the season defensively, and we didn’t have our best defensive baseball game today,” coach Bob Sinclair said. “That cost us some runs. Monmouth is a good team and you can’t give them extra outs, and they capitalize when you do. That basically was the story of the day.”

Monmouth jumped ahead 1-0 in the first when Pomerleau singled to center, moved up on a groundout and scored on Hartford’s sacrifice fly. The junior center fielder sparked another rally in the third, drawing a walk, stealing second and scoring on Richardson’s single.

“Avery Pomerleau gets us going,” said Palleschi. “We always say, we go as Avery goes. If Avery’s on, we’re on.”

Hall-Dale rallied in the bottom of the third when Josh Nadeau belted a one-out double to left and Jacob Brown drew a two-out walk. That brought up catcher Warren, whose flyout to left-center field to end the first was snagged by Pomerleau mere feet from the fence. This time, the freshman hit a line drive into that same gap for a double, scoring Nadeau and Brown to even the score at 2.

Monmouth went ahead on an unearned run in the fourth set up by back-to-back Hall-Dale errors to open the frame. The Bulldogs drew even again with an unearned run of their own in the bottom half, but Richardson stranded the go-ahead runs in both the fourth and the fifth innings.

That set the stage for Monmouth’s winning rally in the sixth, and though he saw his team’s season come to an end, Sinclair knew it was a step forward for a senior-less group that matured sooner than expected.

“We shouldn’t let one game define our season,” he said. “We had a heck of a season that they should be proud of.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

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Twitter: @dbonifantMTM