MADISON — After playing six games in eight days, the Monmouth Academy baseball team enjoyed a short break before Monday’s game against Madison. The Mustangs rested over the weekend and prepared for what they knew would be one of their toughest games of the season.

“Last week we played six in eight days and our last three were kind of lopsided games,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “It was nice to see how we’d react against a good team.”

In a battle of the last two undefeated teams in the Mountain Valley Conference, Monmouth solidified itself as the team to beat in Class C South with a 5-0 victory over the Bulldogs. Monmouth improved to 11-0 while Madison fell to 10-1.

“We want it this year. This is a huge game, two good teams,” Monmouth leadoff hitter Gage Cote said.

Cote hit a two-run triple in the top of the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie and give the Mustangs the lead.

Nick Sanborn gave up just two singles to earn the shutout. Sanborn struck out seven and retired the final 10 Madison hitters, including striking out the side in the seventh. The lefty Sanborn overcame the cold and wind with a curveball that became more dominant as the game went on.

“It was basically executing the pitches. Definitely the curveball was keeping them off balance, and I could get them with the fastball,” Sanborn said.

Palleschi said in the later innings, Sanborn made an adjustment to his delivery and was able to release his curveball in front of himself rather than beside himself. That made the curve’s break more difficult to pick up and Sanborn regained his control. Through the first four innings, Sanborn hit four batters, including two in the fourth. Sanborn said he dealt with cold fingers throughout the game.

“On a cold day like this, it’s always tough to grip the ball and he grips it awfully loose, which is what you want out of a pitcher. A few of them are going to get away when you can’t feel your fingers,” Palleschi said.

“I think we made him eat some pitches early, but once he got that curveball he’s a good pitcher,” Madison coach Scott Franzose added. “I told them, he’ll open with it, he’ll close with it. We’ve got to see it early and be ready to adjust.”

Madison’s Chase Malloy matched Sanborn inning by inning, until the Mustangs broke through in the fifth. With one out, Mat Foulke singled, and Devon Poisson reached on an error. That set up Cote’s two-run triple to deep right field. Cote wasn’t sure what kind of pitch he hit, only that he got all of it.

“I don’t pay attention to any of that. If it’s there, I swing,” Cote said. “I just ran as fast as I could and waited for my coach to tell me to stop.”

Nick Dovinsky scored Cote with a sacrifice fly to center, giving Monmouth a 3-0 lead. The Mustangs added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Foulke was hit by a pitch and scored on a Cote single. Cote stole second base and went to third on a throwing error, before scoring on a Dovinsky single.

Malloy allowed seven hits, striking out four with no walks.

“Chase was on. I knew going into the third, fourth (innings), you watch it keep going zeros on the board, you think it’s going to be a game of attrition. It’s like we always talk about, it’s going to come down to those one or two plays and they got it done,” Franzose said.

Evan Bess singled in the third inning and Jordan Hadley singled in the fourth for Madison’s only hits. The Bulldogs had two runners thrown out on the bases.

“Getting a little over aggressive. That’s the difference with two teams like this,” Franzose said. “One run beat us today. We just couldn’t put one across.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM