The concern among both players and coaches was that a week off might derail the momentum they had built over the last six weeks. Jordan Gentry throwing strikes, Austin Batten making plays at shortstop and the William Monroe offense clicking at all points in the order, all fears were waylayed as the Jefferson District’s first place team shrunk its magic number to three wins with a 10-0 win in six innings over second place Monticello.
“I was a little nervous coming into the game because we hadn’t played in so long,” said Dragons coach Mike Maynard. “(Late last week) we practice on hitting and I think that really paid off. We had some great at-bats and I was proud of everyone. This gives us a little bit of breathing room now.”
Gentry and his defense completely stymied the Mustangs offense, limiting them to just two hits. The starter picked up the six inning complete game win and struck out five batters, but thanked his infield for helping him preserve the shutout.
“Coming off a vacation, it was all defense,” Gentry said. “Austin played great at shortstop. I think he had five put outs. He was just great.”
Offensively, Monroe jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the second innings on a single from Cody Thacker and an RBI double that was pounded by Ryan Leake.
“I keep sitting on fastballs,” Leake said. “Hitting (near the end of the order) teams are just trying to grove one past you. I’m sitting on it. I’ve changed my stance a bit, worked on it practice and it’s coming around for me.”
Two batters later Leake came home on an RBI single from Jacob Hurtz. Monroe extended its lead to 4-0 in the third highlighted by an RBI triple from Batten.
“I’ve said it since day one, I’ll take my three, four and five hitters over anybody around here,” Maynard said of the heart of his order. “Logan Forloines has been drawing a lot of walks — nobody wants to throw to him — Ryan Morris is on fire and Austin Batten, as a freshman protects both of them. If a pitcher makes a mistake Austin’s making them pay.”
In the fifth Gentry got even more run support an a trio of RBI hits. Ryan Morris cranked an RBI double and was driven in immediately after on a single from Batten. Ryan Leake then brought in a run on an error that scored Batten from first base. The following inning the hitting continued and wound up wrapping up the game.
With two runners on, Logan Forloines appeared to have hit an inside-the-park home run on a shot to center that rolled up the hill to the fence at Porterfield Park that would have ended the game. Instead he was awarded an ground rule double that scored Jack Morris. After Ryan Morris was hit by a pitch, both he and Forloines scored on a 2-run double from senior Derek Preacher to win via slaughter rule.
For Monticello, Kevin Cottrell and Dylan Wood had the team’s only hits.
The Mustangs (6-5, 5-3) will look to reground after dropping their second straight JD contest. Monday’s 8-4 loss to Goochland snapped Monticello’s five game winning streak. The Mustangs travel to Orange County on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Monroe (11-1, 8-0) play Louisa County on Friday at Charlottesville High at 4:30 p.m.