FARMINGDALE — A couple of one-run losses near mid-season helped turn the Hall-Dale baseball team around. The Bulldogs haven’t lost since.

They won their ninth straight game Wednesday, to date their most important, as they defeated Monmouth 5-3 in a Western Maine Class C quarterfinal game.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (12-5) face No. 2 Dirigo on Saturday while No. 5 Monmouth finishes at 11-6.

Monmouth defeated Hall-Dale 8-2 on May 1 in Farmingdale, but the Bulldogs have settled down considerably since.

“We’ve really improved and a lot of it has to do with how relaxed the team is now,” said senior Colin Lush, who had two of Hall-Dale’s 10 hits and made a couple of nice-running catches in center field.
This one began as a pretty good pitchers’ duel between Monmouth junior Nate Gagne and Hall-Dale sophomore Bobby Cumler. The teams were scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when the Bulldogs scored a pair of runs aided by two Monmouth errors and an obstruction call.

Freshman Ryan Sinclair singled to right center with one out and was safe at second  when a putout was thrown away. As Sinclair got to his feet he collided with shortstop DJ McHugh and the umpire raised his arm to signal obstruction. Sinclair took third on the play, knowing even if he was thrown out, the play would stand.

“In that case, even if I get tagged out I go back to second,” Sinclair said. “We practiced that one of the first days and it just stuck with us and it paid off today.”

The Bulldogs scored a second run on an outfield error to take a 2-0 lead, but the Mustangs threatened in the top the fifth. Phil Rowe singled to open the inning but was picked off first by the left-hander Cumler. Kyle Fletcher followed with a double down the left field line and scored on a single to right by Billy Cummins, who was picked off after rounding first too far. Monmouth collected four hits and a walk in the inning but only scored one run.

“We lost five baserunners and we still left 12 guys on base,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “It’s tough to win with those numbers.”

Palleschi lifted Gagne with a runner on in the fifth and the Bulldogs jumped on Fletcher, who had beaten them earlier in the season, for three straight hits. Sinclair drove in Zach McNaughton and Lush, who had both singled, with a sharp base hit down the left-field line to make it 4-1.

“The starter, with his sidearm delivery kind of tooled with us a little bit,” Lush said. “Then once when Fletcher came in we locked it down.”

The Mustangs chased Cumler in the sixth inning after he gave hits to Brett Wilson and Fletcher along with a pair of walks to make it 4-3.

“He pitched a real strong four or five, but in that inning it looked like he was losing a little velocity,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “We’ve got a big closer in Brian Allen and I thought it would be a good time to get him in.”

Allen escaped further damage and picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the inning when Kurt Thiele singled and eventually scored on a base hit from Lush. Monmouth mounted a threat in the seventh but two runners were erased on the bases, the second ending the game when Devin West tried to score on a passed ball and was tagged out at home by Allen.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]

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