Monmouth’s Trevor Flanagan pitches during a game against Mt. Abram on Wednesday in Monmouth. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Academy baseball team let one slip away against Mt. Abram last year.

The Mustangs didn’t let it happen again.

Monmouth took a quick lead, then withstood a late Roadrunners rally en route to a 4-3 victory in a Mountain Valley Conference showdown at Monmouth Wednesday. It was also a rematch of last year’s Class C South first-round contest, a 5-3 Monmouth win.

“I think this will help boost the confidence, especially with a young team and a lot of new pitchers,” Mustangs catcher Matt Fortin said. “This game meant a lot to everyone here.”

Mt. Abram won last year’s regular-season game 8-6, and Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said sidestepping that result this time could pay dividends down the line for his 2-0 team.

“This is a big game early on in the year because they’re going to win some games, they’re going to be right there in the middle of it,” he said. “We’re going to be fighting with them for those final playoff spots.”

Monmouth led 4-0, then had to hang on as Mt. Abram (2-2) scored two in the sixth and one in the seventh. The Roadrunners saw their rally handicapped by a pair of thrown-out basestealers, however, and coach Jeff Pillsbury credited his team for coming back while kicking himself for the outs on the basepaths.

“I screwed up. … You’ve got to know your players and what they can do,” he said. “Monmouth’s a good team, and they hit well. We were just hoping to play for that one inning, and it was close.”

The rally started in the sixth when Gabe Emery was hit by a pitch and Kenyon Pillsbury reached on an infield single after a sacrifice, putting runners at the corners. Pillsbury stole second but second baseman Cam Armstrong fired back to home to catch Emery, with Fortin making a nice play on the hop before applying the tag. Mt. Abram still got a pair of runs in on a Hunter Warren single and then an error on a ball hit by Ben DeBaise, cutting the gap to 4-2.

Mt. Abram’s Adam Luce pitches during a game against Monmouth Academy on Wednesday in Monmouth. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Mt. Abram threatened again in the seventh, with Ethan Powell and Marty Kelley drawing walks to set up another first and third situation with one out. The Roadrunners tried another double steal, and while Powell scored, Kelley was thrown out by Fortin at second. Two batters later, Armstrong, who came on with the runners at the corners, induced a comebacker for the final out.

“(Fortin’s) a lot stronger this year, a lot more mature,” Palleschi said. “His arm looks good this year from behind the plate. That’s going to be a big thing, being able to throw guys out and stopping the running game for other teams. That’s not something we’ve really had in the past.”

Monmouth went ahead in the first inning, when Hayden Fletcher led off with a single and came around to score on a pair of wild pickoffs. The Mustangs struck again in the second, with Armstrong starting the inning off with a single. Fortin then drilled a triple to deep right to bring him in, and then scored himself on a passed ball to make it 3-0.

“He threw it pretty inside, and I really like that inside pitch,” said Fortin, whose team added its fourth run in the fifth when Trevor Flanagan reached on an error and then scored on another. “It felt pretty good to hit that. … It really boosts my confidence as well.”

While he and his teammates were scoring, Flanagan was cruising through the Mt. Abram lineup on the mound. He allowed one hit through the first five innings, striking out five, walking none and needing only 41 pitches to make it through. The Roadrunners finally caught up to him in the sixth, but his coach was still impressed with the outing.

“Trevor pitched a great game. Kept them off balance, did a great job,” said Palleschi, who pulled him after the six innings and 59 pitches to preserve his availability for a doubleheader Saturday. “Trevor does a good job pounding the zone. That’s kind of our thing. We want to get ahead early and pound the zone from there, and he does a good job with it.”

 


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