Playing for the third time in seven days, the Monticello baseball team held on late in a tight Jefferson District opener with visiting Orange County. The Mustangs picked up a 3-2 victory to improve to 3-0 and now get a 10 day break after strong start to their season.
“We got some clutch hits late and you never know if that’s going to be enough in a game like this,” said Monticello coach Corey Hunt. “It was a pretty clean game defensively and both teams had to make the plays offensively tonight. Great to see the 2-out hits, those always help you win.”
Dylan Booth got the start for the Mustangs and followed up his 5-inning no-hitter last week with five straight shutout innings in what was a pitchers duel early between he and Orange’s Cannon Davies.
“Cannon Davies was out there pitching his tail off and Dylan Booth came back and threw a lot of strikes,” Hunt said. “That was just a great high school baseball game this early in the year.”
Monticello was able to get to Davies until the bottom of the fifth inning with some small ball. Dylan Zimmerman drew a walk to start the Mustangs’ lone rally of the night. After a sacrifice bunt and a ground ball to move Zimmerman to third, Grayson Bush delivered an RBI infield single than he was able to run out with two outs. Matthew Allen’s single to follow put runners on the corners. There Booth helped his own cause with a 2-run double to left field to make it 3-0.
“It felt real good getting a couple of runs up there,” Booth said. “We didn’t have anything early but got it done there late.”
Orange answered in top of the sixth though. After an error and a walk, the Mustangs went to the bullpen with Booth hitting 81 pitches. The Hornets put Chris Coontz on third after a wildpitch. Kennan Williams got Orange on the board with an RBI groundout. In the next at bat Tucker Hensley delivered a 2-out RBI single to cut things to 3-2. However, Bush was able to close out the inning in relief with a groundout hit right at him.
“I was proud of the guys fighting late like that,” said Orange coach Adam Utz. “I think early on we weren’t as focused. We have to do a better job of executing the small things. I told the guys that there are going to be a lot of close games like this in the Jefferson District this year. We’ve got to know how to execute because the small things are really going to matter.”
Bush worked through the seventh unscatched with the Hornets picking up their lone base runner of the inning on a strikeout in the dirt. Orange bunted Jacob Rogers over to second but with two outs, Monticello picked up a ground out to end the scoring threat and the game.
On the night, Booth finished with 5.1 innings pitched, surrendering just two hits, no earned runs and striking out six along the way.
“I just got up on the mound and tried to do what I know best, throwing strikes,” Booth said. “You’re just trying not to walk anyone, find that strike zone and play behind your defense.”
Booth, Bush, Allen and Kevin Jarrell all went 1-for-3 at teh played. Tyler Walker and Zimmerman had the other two hits.
Davies pitched a complete game and struck out four while walking just two. Williams, Hensley and Zach Cubbage were each 1-for-3. Bret Jennings was 1-for-2 with a walk.
Monticello (3-0) plays Charlottesville on March 29. Orange will look to play at Powhatan on Thursday at 6 p.m., weather permitting.