PHOTO: Tanner Felton connects on a three-run homer for Monticello in the Ed-Co doubleheader June 10. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Monticello continued its impressive roll through the 2013 schedule last week, winning six more games, including four in the Tri-Rivers Conference, to extend its streak to 15.
Included were lopsided sweeps of Edgewood-Colesburg, by scores of 11-0 and 16-1; and East Buchanan, 16-0 and 9-0.
Two non-conference wins also were included, and proved to be the closest of the games. Monticello beat Midland 9-5 June 11 in Monticello, and edged Calamus-Wheatland 3-0 in a June 14 road game.
“I was really happy with how our team played this entire week,” Monticello coach Josh Soper said.
Monticello collected a combined 22 hits in the Ed-Co doubleheader, in a total of just seven innings at bat. In the first game, the Panthers had 10 hits. Michael Reuter was 2-for-3, and Tanner Felton was 1-for-2 with a double. Courtesy runner David Gray had two stolen bases.
Matt Holmes pitched the first four innings to get the win, allowing two hits. Derek Manternach pitched the top of the fifth.
In the second game, the Panthers scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by Felton’s three-run homer to left. Reuter had a two-run single in the inning. Felton finished 2-for-3 with five RBIs, Sam Boyd was 3-for-3 and scored two runs, Reuter was 2-for-2 with three runs and three RBIs, and Spencer Williams was 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
Zach Monk and Williams shared pitching duties, with Monk getting the win.
“We really hit the ball well in this doubleheader, and capitalized on their defensive mistakes,” Soper said. “Hitting is contagious. This should give our guys some confidence offensively.
“It was nice to see Tanner get his first home run of the season,” Soper said. “Zach Monk is again playing a valuable role as the utility player on this team. He has now played seven different positions on the season.”
The Panthers played host to Jones County rival Midland June 11, and scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure a 9-5 victory.
“These Midland-Monticello games have always been close, competitive games, and this one was no different,” Soper said. “Two nights in a row, the middle of our order has stepped up and driven in runs.”
Reuter hit a two-run single in the sixth inning to put the Panthers ahead 7-5. Felton and Mason Newhard followed with RBI hits to add insurance runs. Felton finished 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. Boyd was 2-for-2 with two stolen bases. Newhard was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Newhard, pitching in relief of Cody Menster, worked the last two innings to get the win.
The hitting onslaught continued June 13 in Winthrop, as the Panthers blitzed East Buchanan 16-0 in four innings and 9-0.
A nine-run first inning was key to the first game. A two-run homer by Felton and a two-run double by Monk were key hits in the inning.
“We came out and tore the cover off the baseball right from the first pitch of the game,” Soper said. “Eight out of nine guys had a hit in the first inning, and everyone in the linup recorded at least one hit in the game.”
Holmes extended his pitching shutout streak to 31 innings, firing a two-hitter with six strikeouts in four innings. Boyd, Reuter and Williams had three hits apiece.
The second game victory was more gradual. Monticello led 1-0 after two innings, 3-0 after three, and 6-0 after five before scoring three in the ninth to ice the victory.
Felton was 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and Reuter batted 3-for-5. Monk pitched all seven innings, allowing four hits and fanning four. The team had eight steals in the second game, led by Felton with four and Boyd with three.
“Spencer Williams had a really good night at the plate,” Soper said. “It was nice to see him belt those two doubles (one in each game), as he has been hitting home runs on a regular basis in batting practice.”
Calamus-Wheatland provided strong opposition in Friday’s non-conference game. The Panthers, who had at least nine hits in each of its previous five, were held to just six.
All three of Monticello’s runs came in the top of the fifth inning. Matt Manternach and Monk had RBI singles, and Derek Manternach scored on a throwing error.
Newhrad pitched a two-hit shutout on just 66 pitches, striking out three batters.
“Mason also had the leadoff single to get the fifth inning going for us offensively,” Soper said.
“Matt and Derek continue to play at a high level in all areas. They made some great plays defensively. And, you could tell that we were a little worn down, but we grinded out another victory.”
The Panthers will have their biggest doubleheader of the conference schedule Thursday, June 20, playing at Cascade beginning at 5:30 p.m.