SALEM — Ben Debiase stood on third base, read the sign from his coach, Jeff Pillsbury, and figured, why not. In a tie game in the bottom of the sixth inning and daylight fading, a straight steal of home was a gamble worth taking for Mt. Abram.

As Monmouth pitcher Isaac Oliveira went into his windup, Debiase broke for home, sliding safe just under the tag of Mustangs catcher Manny Calder.

Debiase’s run gave the Roadrunners a 9-8 lead, and it held up, with Mt. Abram taking the Mountain Valley Conference win by that score.

“Coach has been pretty iffy with stealing home. I got caught earlier this season,” Debiase said. “But Coach was feeling it, and I was feeling it.”

Debiase’s gutsy steal was the final play in a string of wildness that make high school baseball different. Monmouth didn’t get its first hit until Hunter Frost — the nine hitter who had struck out in his two at bats — laced a single into center with two outs in the top of the sixth.

Yet when Frost got that hit, the Mustangs (7-1) had a 6-5 lead.


Monmouth capitalized on four walks, three hit batters, and a pair of Mt. Abram (8-3) errors to stay in the game and take the lead in the top of the sixth. Carter Armstrong got the Mustangs second hit, a two-run single, to give Monmouth an 8-5 lead.

Mt. Abram starter Hunter Warren retired the first 11 hitters of the game before waking Calder with two outs in the fourth. Oliveira reached on an error, scoring Calder and cutting the Roadrunners lead at the time to 2-1.

“We hit a lot of balls right at people early on,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “We were proud of the kids. They could’ve easily cashed it in in the third inning.”

Down 8-5 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Roadrunners rallied to load the bases without a hit. Kaden Pillsbury walked to lead off the inning, and Kenyon Pillsbury was hit by a pitch. Warren reached on an error. Trevor Phelps then hit a ground rule double to right, scoring two, then scored on another error.

This set up Debiase to get the green light and swipe the go ahead run.

“The biggest thing is, this (win) is going to be momentum,” Debiase said. “We knew this is a really good team, but we knew we play with confidence.”

Phelps earned the win in relief of Warren.

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