MONMOUTH — Time was on Monmouth Academy’s side in Tuesday’s Western Class C baseball preliminary with Carrabec.

Nick Sanborn led the offense with three timely hits and Hunter Richardson worked quickly and efficiently on the mound as the sixth-seeded Mustangs advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over the 11th-seeded Cobras.

Monmouth (10-7) will face No. 3 Sacopee Valley (15-1) at 4 p.m. Thursday in Hiram. Carrabec finishes 7-10.

Sanborn went 3-for-3 with two doubles and drove in three runs. Richardson needed just 68 pitches to toss a five-hit complete game against the aggressive Cobras. He struck out six, hit a batter and didn’t walk anybody.

“I try to work quick,” Richardson said. “I try to hit the locations where coach tells me to, let them hit it in the field. We’ve made some defensive changes that have made our defense pretty solid. We haven’t had an error in, like, three games.”

“He hit his spots and mixed in some off-speed stuff when he needed to,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi added. “His fastball was good early, and his curveball was good late, which is just what you want.”

Richardson threw 10 or less pitches in four of his seven innings. The most he threw was 16 in the seventh, when the Cobras got the tying run to the plate with two out after a dropped third strike and an Isaac Vaillancourt single. Richardson ended the game with his third strikeout of the inning.

Monmouth, meanwhile, waited for its pitch from Carrabec starter Dustin Crawford (six innings, seven hits, one strikeout, two walks, one hit batter).

“They were patient with Dustin and they were finding the gaps,” Carrabec coach Cory Paquette said.

Sanborn created his own gap in the second by hitting one over the left fielder’s head for his first double, which scored Travis Hartford (two runs) to make it 1-0.

In the third, Richardson (2-for-3) got a second life at the plate and made the most of it after Carrabec’s catcher dropped a foul pop-up. He singled, then, on the next pitch, broke for second before Crawford started his wind-up. Crawford correctly chased Richardson, but his throw to the bag was late and into center field. Richardson headed to third and figured to be content to stay there, but the throw from the outfield hit him and went down the third base line, prompting him to break for home and easily beat the throw to make it 2-0.

“I thought I had the pitcher timed up. It turned out I didn’t,” Richardson said. “But I knew I had some speed to make it around and just advanced on errors when I could. I saw where the ball went (at third) and I thought I’d take the risk.”

Carrabec cut the lead in half on Trent Richardson’s RBI single in the fourth, but Monmouth got the run right back in the bottom half of the frame when Sanborn cracked his second RBI double.

“He had a great round of batting practice, squared the ball up well and carried it over into the game,” Palleschi said. “This is probably the first time this year when we’ve had the timely hits when we needed them.”

“I’ve been hitting really well lately,” Sanborn said. “I’ve been practicing, and coach has been helping me to get better. I was feeling really good today. I knew it was going to be a good day.”

Sanborn lined an RBI single up the middle for his third hit and another insurance run in the sixth.

For the Mustangs, the win sets up a rematch with defending Western C champion Sacopee, which last year went to Chick Field as the No. 4 seed and beat the top-seeded hosts.

Carrabec, meanwhile, will graduate three senior starters and hopes to build off this year’s playoff experience.

“We had a great season. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores this season, so they’re still growing,” Paquette said. “We’ve met our goals this season. We wanted to make the playoffs again, get some playoff experience and retool for next year.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33