DIXFIELD – Playing in similar surroundings certainly helped the Jay baseball team turn its fortunes around Wednesday afternoon.
Zae Armandi hit a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning as Jay rallied for a 5-4 win over Monmouth in Mountain Valley Conference action.
The game was played at Harlow Park in Dixfield because Ouellette Diamond was still too soggy. It is the third game the Tigers have been forced to relocate.
“Its hard, but it’s common,” Jay coach Chris Bessey said. “There was some grumbling, but the kids are used to it. At least this game was on a neutral field, and we were the home team today, unlike last week against Dirigo, so we batted last.”
Jay had been unbeaten, until losing two straight games, beginning with a 4-3 loss to Dirigo in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Tigers reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in Class Heal Points.
Monmouth (5-3) scored a go-ahead run on a Rick Pelletier single in the top of the seventh. The lead proved to be short-lived because the Tigers roared back.
Monmouth pitcher Ben Seefeldt, (four hits, seven strikeouts) who had retired 11 in a row, hit Steve Nelson with a pitch leading off the seventh. Mike Holland struck out, but Shane Lafevre and pinch-hitter Mike DeSantis each reached on infield errors. Armandi, a left-handed batter, drilled a pitch beyond third base, and Nelson and Lafevre each raced home.
“I knew he was going to throw me a curve,” Armandi said. “It was a clutch situation; there’s a lot of good hitters on this team, but I like the pressure.”
Armandi (3-for-3) had hit a two-run homer to right-center field in the third inning The leadoff batter scored two runs and had four runs batted in.
“The team was really looking forward to this game” Armandi said. “Especially after what had happened to us since last Friday. We needed to win today.”
Nelson (5-1) earned the win, throwing a complete game four-hitter. The right-hander has not thrown off the Ouellette mound this spring.
Monmouth took a 3-1 lead thanks to two RBIs by Pelletier. Eric Murphy scored on a dropped ball at home plate. The Mustangs utilized the fundamentals – three bunts to load the bases in the fourth inning. Nelson responded by inducing Seefeldt to ground out and Scott Ogden popped out.
“We give and give,” Bessey said. “That’s been a problem. Errors have hurt. We withstood them today. But we knew that (Monmouth) liked to bunt, and we had talked about it.”
The Tigers’ Ryan Bourassa hit an RBI single in the first inning. Cameron Saucier of Monmouth was the lone repeat hitter.