A span of 24 hours was long enough to show Monroe High School’s baseball team at both ends of the emotional spectrum.
The Hornets whipped Eaton 11-1 on Monday, but went on the road Tuesday and had Monroe coach Bob Hunt counting up the mental errors in a 6-5 loss to the Eagles at Brower Field.
“If you don’t take advantage of opportunities, baseball is going to humble you,” Hunt said after the Hornets slipped to 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division. “We weren’t focused from the beginning.
“We missed calls. We missed signs. We missed pitches. We don’t look like a league championship team. We’re two-time defending league champs, and everybody’s giving us their best shot. I’m not sure we’re giving our best shot every night.”
The day started poorly for Monroe when scheduled starter Logan Becraft couldn’t pitch because of a hamstring issue, and Eaton (9-5, 5-2) grabbed a 4-1 lead against Jake Walton in the first two innings.
The Hornets clawed back and took a 5-4 advantage on Hunter Collins’ two-run triple in the sixth, only to watch the Eagles score twice in the bottom of the frame.
Eaton coach Patrick Flanagan praised his players for shaking off Monday’s blowout.
“It’s funny because last week was just a tough week for us in general, and I tried doing my ‘win one for the gipper’ and motivational speeches,” Flanagan said. “Today I just told them, ‘I’ve said enough. You guys go down the line and get yourselves ready and we’ll go out and play Eaton Eagle baseball.’ And that’s what they did.
“I like our guys. We’re senior-led, and they’re a great group of young men. I feel confident going into a game that I’m going to get everything they’ve got, so that’s all I can ask for. You just let the cards fall after that.”
Evan Lane only allowed two runs in 4.1 innings of relief work for Monroe, but those runs saddled him with the loss.
The Eagles’ Bradley Curry and Trevor Pittman both singled with two outs in the sixth and came around to score on consecutive RBI singles up the middle by Donnie Nicodemus and Colton Gray.
“The way my team had been up the entire game, I didn’t want to panic, and I didn’t want them to start trying to do too much by hitting bases-empty three-run home runs,” Flanagan said. “So I still felt confident when we fell behind. I told them to stay within themselves and we’ll string together a couple hits and finish this game and get out of here.”
Gray’s hit was the game-winner and completed an offensive effort that included two singles, a triple, a walk and four RBIs.
“Yesterday was pretty demoralizing, but we had the mind-set to come out here today and work pretty hard,” said Gray, a senior first baseman.
And of his game-deciding single?
“I was pretty confident about the whole situation,” Gray said. “To see it go up the middle, that felt great because I knew Trevor would score from second.”
Curry, who beat Monroe 3-2 with a four-hitter last year at EHS, pitched the first five innings. Ghye Wilson squandered the save, but picked up the win.
Nick Osterman had three singles and drove in a run for the Hornets, who recently returned from a 3-2 trip to Orlando, Fla. Alex Page and Ryan Grant added RBIs.
Pittman collected three hits and Nicodemus notched two for Eaton. Blake Curry also plated a run.
“As bad as we were, we still had all kinds of opportunities,” Hunt said. “Eaton did a lot of good things and put the ball in play when they were supposed to. I think every batter that got a hit was down 1-2 or 0-2, and we’d throw pitches in the strike zone and they’d at least get a bat on it. Kudos to them for doing the job right.”
Said Flanagan, “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach Hunt and Monroe because they’re a good ballclub year in and year out. Coach Hunt is an outstanding coach. I try to learn something from him every time we play him.”
The Eagles will host Valley View on Wednesday. Monroe is back in action Saturday with a home doubleheader against Preble Shawnee.
WP – Ghye Wilson (1-0); LP – Evan Lane (2-1). Records: M 8-5, 2-2 SWBL Southwestern; E 9-5, 5-2 SWBL Southwestern
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