FARMINGDALE — Monmouth Academy baseball coach Eric Palleschi thought his team had made a mistake.

The Mustangs went to the plate in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-all tie with Hall-Dale, and Bulldogs starter Dean Jackman, sitting at 105 pitches, went out again to face them. Despite Jackman sitting only five pitches from the pitch limit, Monmouth’s first two hitters went down on a total of three pitches, opening up the possibility of Hall-Dale somehow getting through the inning without needing a call to the bullpen.

“I felt like kind of an idiot,” Palleschi said. “At 105, in that situation, you’d like to see them take a couple of pitches and get him off the mound, because he seemed to be in a little bit of a roll.

“But it worked out all right, I guess.”

That it did. Travis Hartford reached on an infield single, Avery Amero knocked him in to spark a two-run rally, and Monmouth topped Hall-Dale, 7-5, in a game that could loom large late in the season with both teams vying for spots atop Class C’s South region.

“Games like this, especially late in the year, this is a playoff-type atmosphere,” Palleschi said. “Them and us, we’re fighting for that top four. This is like a playoff game.”

Control of the game teetered back and forth, with Monmouth (8-3) erasing a 4-1 deficit before Hall-Dale (6-4) rallied back from being down 5-4, but the rally that ended up giving the Mustangs the lead for good seemed dead before it began when Hunter Richardson flied to right and Nick Dovinsky lined to second. But Hartford hit a slow roller between first and second and went to second when the late throw to a covering Jackman was wild. That chased Jackman, and after a wild pickoff attempt sent Hartford to third, Avery Amero lined a single to center to bring in the go-ahead run and put Monmouth up 6-5.

“I just took a deep breath and hoped for the best,” Amero said. “I was feeding off the rally … and I knew that we needed another run, and I had to be the one to get him in.”

“Avery’s been in a little bit of a slump,” Palleschi said. “It was nice to see him come up with a big hit.”

Kane Gould followed with a fly ball to short right field, where Logan Dupont tried to make a sliding catch to end the inning. The umpire ruled that the ball was trapped, however, and pinch runner Mat Foulke scored from first to make it 7-5.

“I didn’t get a good look at it myself,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “I spoke with the umpire, he didn’t actually see it hit the ground, but he saw him reach for it. Our take was that he reached for it because it was part of the bobble.”

Amero, who had relieved Richardson in the sixth, finished the Bulldogs off in the seventh to seal the game.

Monmouth struck first when Avery Pomerleau led off the game with an infield hit, stole second and scored on Richardson’s single. Hall-Dale quickly responded when Akira Warren doubled to deep left and scored on Cole Lockhart’s single in the first, and the Bulldogs tacked on three more runs in the second — all unearned — on an error and RBI singles by Austin Stebbins and Jacob Brown for a 4-1 lead.

Monmouth, which helped the Bulldogs with three errors in the second, benefitted from shaky Hall-Dale defense with two unearned runs in the third, one scoring on a double from Richardson. The Mustangs jumped in front, 5-4, in the fifth on a Dovinsky single and an Amero fielder’s choice.

“The dugout never really got into that ‘We’re in trouble’ kind of thing,” said Palleschi, whose team banged out 12 hits, getting three from both Richardson and Corey Armstrong. “They’re always positive, they think they can win any game.”

Hall-Dale had another rally in store, with Warren leading off the fifth with a single and Alec Byron eventually scoring him with an infield single. Jackman kept the Mustangs quiet in the sixth, and came one play away from doing the same in the seventh.

“We had them down to two outs in the seventh, and a tough ground ball there, it just didn’t go our way,” Sinclair said. “It’s a tough play, but they capitalized on a chance.

“(The game) did take on that atmosphere of a playoff game, and although we came up with a tough loss today, it was good to see that we competed against a really good baseball team. As a young baseball team, we can take away a lot from that.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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