RUMFORD – There’s a definite advantage to playing at Hosmer Field for the Mountain Valley baseball team.
No. 9 batter Ben French slapped an opposite-field single to drive home Justin Stairs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Falcons rallied for a dramatic 3-2 win over snake-bitten Monmouth Wednesday afternoon.
Class B Mountain Valley (11-1), ranked No. 2 in Heal Points, had plenty of momentum entering the decisive final frame. With two games remaining, the Falcons continue to control their destiny, earning a berth in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game.
“I was just trying to make contact,” French said. “(Monmouth pitcher Ben Seefeldt) threw he ball outside, so I went with the pitch. It was a good situation. This team is doing good because we’ve bonded together so well no one is above or more important than the next guy.”
Justin Stairs reached on an infield error and raced to third base when Eric Volkernick’s batted ball was booted. French didn’t waste any time and poked the first pitch into right-center field.
It’s the second game Mountain Valley has won in its final at-bat this season. The Falcons beat Dirigo 4-3 on a Corey Devoe three-run homer. On the other end of the spectrum, Monmouth (8-4), fourth in Class C, lost to Dirigo in the bottom of the seventh.
“Granted, we got some big hits in the game,” Mountain Valley coach Steve LaPointe said. “But when you look back, the throw by Nate Stairs was a key. He had missed an out earlier in the game, and I had barked at him. If he hadn’t hit the cutoff man, the ball would have rolled around and (Monmouth) would have scored. That was good fundamental baseball.”
Scott Ogden led off with a single, but was erased on Seefeldt’s batted ball. Myles Bonnefant was inserted as a pinch runner and was waved around on a hit by Nate Armstrong.
Nate Stairs retrieved the ball in right-center field and fired to first baseman Andy Shorey, who threw a strike to French at home plate. Bonnefant was toast by 5 feet.
Seefeldt had been in total command throughout the game as his quick deliveries had kept the Falcon batters off stride. The tall right-hander, who retired the first 10 batters, had allowed an infield single to Marcus Palmer and a Justin Stairs triple. Unfortunately, everything unraveled in the sixth.
“We had hit the ball well, but right at people,” LaPointe said. “Monmouth made the plays. Chris Cayer made some adjustments and pitched out of a couple jams. Our defense settled down and made some good plays.”
Cayer led off with a single and Palmer reached on an error. Devoe walked, but was erased on a Matt Marr fielder’s choice. Shorey hit a two RBI single to tie the game.
Monmouth took a 2-0 lead, with some nice hitting off Cayer in the second inning. Cameron Sauier, Ogden and Seefeldt each went with the pitch. The latter was a two-run single.
“That inning was tough,” said Cayer, who improved to 3-1. “They were hitting outside pitches, so I had to adjust. I was still upset over losing to Winthrop last Saturday. Ben French called a great game; there’s no I trust more behind the plate.”