Legion: Monroe edges Shelton, looks for playoff success

Pat Ryan runs the bases in Monroe’s 3-2 win against Shelton. — Andy Hutchison photo

by Andy Hutchison

Correspondent

Locked into second place in the Zone V standings, Monroe is set up for first round home game when the U19 state playoffs begin this coming weekend. Monroe, with a 3-2 win at Shelton on Tuesday night, improved to 17-5 heading into its final two contests.

Monroe jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening inning and fended off playoff-hungry Shelton, battling for the zone’s fourth and final entry as the regular season moved toward the finish line this week.

Luke Shaffer went the distance on the mound and escaped some trouble in Shelton’s last at bat to end it.

In the bottom of the seventh, Shaffer hit Shelton’s David Wells with a pitch and after Wells stole second base, Monroe intentionally walked Craig McNamara with one out, then ended the game by inducing a double play grounder.

Monroe took the early lead when John Orzechowski walked and scored on Cameron Lazar’s double. After walks to Shaffer and Patrick Ryan, Zach Boyle’s grounder drove in the second run.

Shelton cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third and Monroe got the two-run advantage back in the fifth. An error and walk set the table for Boyle’s RBI single for a 3-1 lead.

Shelton again got to within a run, in the bottom of the fifth, but Shaffer kept his team in the lead, mostly pitching out of trouble after surrendering a pair of singles to start the frame.

“He does a great job every time he goes out there,” Monroe coach Bob Pagel said.

Monroe was shorthanded in the Shelton game but still got the job done. Pagel’s lineup, because of its hitting abilities, has had its share of blowout victories this summer. Pagel said it was good to see his team prevail in a closely-contested game, perhaps like the ones that are ahead in the playoffs. The Monroe coach has seen his team come through in other occasional hard-fought contests as well.

“It’s nice to see, in pressure situations, everybody knows what they’re doing,” said Pagel, adding that position players who pitch know when to cover first on a bunt play, for example.

Pagel is pleased with the emergence of Boyle and Ed Tristine, noting that Tristine joined the team partway into the campaign and has stepped into a significant role of late.

The Monroe coach is optimistic about his team’s chances for success given its pitching depth and offense led by Orzechowski who has a batting average of around .460, Pagel said.

The state playoffs get started against an opponent to be determined. Regardless of what squad Monroe draws to kick things off, the team will look to advance deep into the bracket.

“Anything’s possible. We’ve got a great bunch of guys,” the coach added.

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