Lisbon’s Jonah Sautter is chased to third base by Monmouth Academy’s Nick Dovinski during Monday afterbnoon’s baseball game in Montmouth. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
MONMOUTH — Batting at the top of Lisbon’s order, Noah Austin likes to get the offense going early, especially when he’s also tasked with keeping the opponent from scoring.
Austin the leadoff hitter treated Austin the pitcher very well, and vice versa, on Monday, reaching base four times and scoring two runs in support of his four-hit shutout in a 7-0 win over Monmouth.
Austin and the Greyhounds took advantage of six Monmouth errors to score all of their runs in the first two innings, which helped settle him into a rhythm early on the mound. He struck out seven, walked two and hit a batter.
“We put the bat on the ball at the beginning, which was nice,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “Noah pitched a great game, and we made the plays we needed to make behind him.”
Austin led off the game against Mustangs starter Avery Pomerleau and reached on Monmouth’s first error, then scored on DJ Douglass’ double to left. Sean Scott (two hits) singled Douglass home. Four more Mustang errors in the inning made it 4-0 Greyhounds, who could have added more if not for having one baserunner caught stealing and another picked off.
“We weren’t ready,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “Defensively, we didn’t attack the ball early. We just weren’t ready out of the gate. We knew they were going to hit the ball, and they put the ball in play and scored a bunch early. Trying to dig out of a hole is not easy to do against them.”
Austin’s one-out single got Lisbon going again in the second. Douglass followed with an infield hit and Lucas Francis (two hits) drove them both in with a double to left. Monmouth’s sixth error plated Francis with the game’s final run.
“I like to get a run that first inning, especially when I’m pitching but even when I’m not. It sets the tone early that you’re ready to play and everybody’s good to go,” said Austin, who had two singles, a walk and stole two bases.
“We made the change last year of putting Noah in the leadoff spot after a game at Telstar and it really triggered the offense a little bit more, so I said, ‘Well, he’s not going anywhere for the next two years so I might as well keep him there,'” Ridley said. “It took him a little bit to get going (this year). Now he’s got his groove.”
Corey Armstrong (five innings, two hits, five strikeouts, three walks) relieved Pomerleau and, thanks in part to better defensive support, shut the Greyhounds (8-1) down. But Austin, mixing in his curve ball effectively with his fastball, kept the Mustangs from posing a serious threat.
“The curve ball is a big part of my pitching. I don’t throw very hard,” Austin said. “I have to keep them off-balance. It was working really good today.”
In contrast to Monmouth, Lisbon’s defense helped Austin out when needed with no errors and one nice backhand play on a grounder to third base by Francis that got Austin out of his biggest jam, bases loaded with two out in the fourth.
Monmouth (6-3) put runners at the corners with one out in the in the fifth, but Austin got a strikeout and pop up to the catcher to nix that rally. He went on to retire the final eight Mustangs in order.
Lisbon’s Noah Austin slides into second base as Monmouth Academy’s Carlos Garcia waits for the ball during Monday afternoon’s baseball game in Monmouth. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Lisbon’s Noah Austin fires the ball at Monmouth Academy’s Devon Poisson during Monday afternoon’s baseball game in Monmouth. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)