WINTHROP — Mountain Valley spent 18 innings trying to get a lead on Saturday.
In their final at-bat of the day, the Falcons finally got that long-awaited lead — and a win.
Playing its second game of the day (starting with a 5-4 loss to Winthrop), Mountain Valley took Monmouth Academy to extra innings, then rallied back from a three-run hole with a four-run bottom of the 11th. Ethan Laubauskas ended the game at the plate after starting it on the mound, dropping a squeeze bunt toward first that scored Cam Godbois and gave the Falcons a 5-4 win in an MVC baseball game at Winthrop High School.
“They just — never-quit attitude,” Falcons coach Steve LaPointe said. “We’ve talked this year about being selfless and relentless, and those are two words that are kind of our mottos, and it definitely proved out today.”
The Falcons (3-1) were relentless all day, rallying twice against Winthrop in a losing effort, then coming back two more times on the Mustangs (0-2).
Laubauskas showed himself to be selfless in Mountain Valley’s 76th and final plate appearance.
In a 4-1 hole entering the bottom of the 11th, the Falcons quickly recorded one out. John Pepin then walked and John Adley, Garrett Garbarini and Godbois hit consecutive singles to draw Mountain Valley within one run. Hunter Ames walked on a 3-2 count and Fischer Cormier singled to left to tie the game. Laubauskas then squared to bunt at Avery Amero’s first pitch to him while Godbois raced home. The bunt attempt rolled to the right of the mound, and Godbois ran right into a boisterous Mountain Valley bench that was celebrating the shocking turn of events.
“(Coach LaPointe) told me just get that sacrifice bunt down and get (Godbois) in, and a nice one will win the game,” Laubauskas said. “I saw that (Amero) was coming right down the middle, and I just put it down to get it out far enough just so Godbois would score.”
Laubauskas said he thought his team would win despite entering their final turn at the plate, down three runs. LaPointe said he wasn’t really sure.
“I’m not sure they really believed it,” LaPointe said. “But when we got that first hit — first hit, I didn’t see anybody on the bench getting up. Then the second hit, a couple people were getting up. The third one, we got a run home, it was like ‘okay, I think we can do this.'”
The need for a rally came after Monmouth tried to put the Falcons away in the top of the frame. Trevor Flanagan was hit by a pitch leading off, and after a strikeout that Garbarini picked up, Gabe Martin and Avery Pomerleau also were hit to load the bases. Nick Dovinsky drove in two runs with a single, and a wild pitch brought home another.
“There was a lull in there for both teams. Neither team could hit the ball,” LaPointe said. “It was like no matter who swung no one could hit the ball. And then all of a sudden they came alive and had a great inning.”
The Mustangs got on the board quickly in the top of the first. Laubauskas walked the first two batters of the game — Pomerleau was gunned down trying to steal second after a lead-off walk — then hit Hunter Richardson in the head with an errant pitch. Two batters later, Travis Hartford bunted and reached on an error to drive home Dovinsky.
Richardson stayed in the game and was the starting pitcher for Monmouth. The senior righthander lasted eight innings before his pitch count forced him out of the game. He scattered five hits, including three in Mountain Valley’s run-scoring sixth, and struck out 11 batters without walking any.
“Richardson threw a heck of a game,” LaPointe said.
The Falcons got to him in the sixth to break up a string of nine straight batters set down. Jacob Beauchesne led off with a single and advanced to second on an error. Jacob Blanchard dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move over Beauchesne, who then scored on a single by Pepin. Adley followed with a single, but Richardson got out of the jam with a pair of groundouts.
He then struck out four straight batters, ended his outing with six straight outs, and then Falcons didn’t get another runner on until one out in the 10th.
The Mustangs had their chances to end the game, putting runners on in nine of 11 innings, including all four extra innings. But Laubauskas, Pepin, Cormier and Garbarini did their best to limit the damage of six hits, seven walks, four hit batters and an error.
“The cool thing is we just threw strikes. Both teams were throwing strikes and making the plays,” LaPointe said. “It was an early-season high school baseball game. Pitchers are always ahead of hitters early season. But it caught up a little bit in that last inning.”
Kane Gould had half of Monmouth’s hits out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup, and was robbed of a fourth by Laubauskas, who snagged a liner out of the air in the second.
Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi pushed his team out of the dugout quickly after the game. The Mustangs were scheduled to play Boothbay back in Monmouth 30 minutes after their game against Mountain Valley ended. Palleschi told his players to move on from the loss and focus on beating Boothbay, which the Mustangs later did for their first win of the season.