STANDISH — Cam Armstrong didn’t feel pressured to deliver an outstanding performance Thursday afternoon.

No matter. He delivered one anyway.

Armstrong pitched a two-hit shutout while also going 3-for-3 with two runs driven in, guiding the second-seeded Monmouth baseball team to the state final with a 5-0 victory over No. 4 Lisbon in the Class C South final at Larry Mahaney Diamond at St. Joseph’s College.

It’s the first trip to a state final since 2001 for Monmouth (16-3), which last made it as a Class D team. Lisbon, the defending Class C champions, finished 16-3.

“I thought we did a great job executing what we wanted to do,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in a state game. Lisbon (is a) great team, (coach) Randy (Ridley) is a great friend. It was a fun baseball game.”

Palleschi’s team had the right man on the mound. Armstrong took a no-hitter into the sixth, struck out eight and needed only 87 pitches to finish the game, 63 of which he threw for strikes.

“I feel like I’ve got to do what I can do to make the team win,” Armstrong said. “But everybody did great, it wasn’t just me. Everybody was hitting, the defense was great.”

Armstrong knew his job, but even as the only senior on the team, he didn’t feel burdened to be the one carrying the Mustangs to the regional title.

“No, because I’ve been saying this all year. I might be the only senior, but everybody else is a great leader, everybody’s got each other’s backs,” he said. “It’s not just me.”

Monmouth Academy pitcher Cam Armstrong celebrates after striking out a Lisbon batter during the Class C South final Thursday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Armstrong pounded the strike zone and forced the Lisbon batters to do all of the work themselves. He fell behind only three batters in the game — one through the first four innings, by which point Monmouth had a 5-0 lead — and threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 25 batters.

“He has been the best all year,” Palleschi said. “He’s really thrown exceptionally well.”

Like his pitcher, Palleschi said the team wasn’t expecting Armstrong to be a one-man show.

“No, not at all,” Palleschi said. “We just kind of follow. He leads by example. We have a bunch of kids that understand their role really well, and they perform their role really well.”

That was the case again Thursday, which helped Monmouth gain the upper hand early. In the first, Hayden Fletcher reached on an error and scored on Isaac Oliveira’s bases-loaded walk. In the second, Manny Calder singled and scored on Armstrong’s second hit of the game to make it 2-0.

The Mustangs strengthened their grip on the game in the fourth. Hunter Frost and Kyle Palleschi drew leadoff walks, and Fletcher smacked a two-run double into right-center field. Armstrong followed by ripping a single into left, scoring Fletcher and making it 5-0.

“It’s awesome. There’s nothing better than getting a big hit for your team,” Fletcher said. “We knew Cameron was dealing, so from then on we felt like we had it in the bag.”

It wasn’t over yet, however, as Lisbon finally started to get to Armstrong in the sixth. Mason Booker doubled to lead off, breaking up the no-hitter, and Riley Turner followed with a walk. Hunter Brissette walked two outs later to load the bases, but Neil LaRochelle popped to short to end the threat,

Monmouth Academy’s Manny Calder steals second as Lisbon shortstop Nick Ferrence waits for the ball during the Class C South final Thursday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“You tip your cap to the whole team,” Ridley said. “He pitched a hell of a game. They made the clutch hits early in the game, and we made some critical mistakes early in the game that kind of led to their confidence going way up and ours not being at the level that it could have been. But we battled. We didn’t quit, we didn’t give up.”

With the bases loaded and the Greyhounds’ best hitter in LaRochelle up, Ridley said he felt the game was far from over.

“Any situation I have Neil LaRochelle coming up, I’m excited,” he said. “He lives for those moments. He loves being in that moment. And he even said, ‘I missed it.’ That’s all it was.”

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