MONMOUTH — Monmouth Academy’s Kyle Fletcher caught Mason Smith sneaking a peek at a 2-2 pitch on the corner.

Facing a full count, he froze Mike Degou in the same spot. Then Tobey Harrington went down swinging.

Not a bad beginning for a freshman.

The left-handed Fletcher retired Lisbon High School’s first seven hitters in his first varsity start. He carried a shutout into the fifth inning of an abbreviated 13-1 MVC baseball win Friday.

“I think one of the things was location,” Fletcher said. “I kept my pitches down. I didn’t give them a lot of good pitches to hit.”

Fletcher fanned five in all and faced only two batters over the minimum through the first four frames.

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“You can’t start any better than that, can you? He came out and threw strikes and good things happened,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said.

Kyle Frazier’s one-out single triggered a modest Lisbon rally in the fifth.

Nick Dingley drew a walk and Brandon Hovey singled to center to plate the Greyhounds’ only run and end Fletcher’s day.

Another ninth-grader, D.J. McHugh, coaxed Smith into a lineout to second base and dismissed Degou on a slow roller to third, invoking the mercy rule.

Fletcher, McHugh and fellow freshman Brandon Goff each produced one of Monmouth’s six hits and combined for six runs scored and four RBIs.

“He’s pitched in some big games. He’s got some experience,” Palleschi said of Fletcher. “We expect a lot out of him. We’ve got three freshmen that we start, and we’re expecting a lot out of all three of them, to keep developing the way they have.”

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Five seniors would be enough reason for optimism in Monmouth (2-0). But it’s the three newcomers who flaunt arguably the most impressive baseball resume.

“We played in the Babe Ruth state championship (with Apple Valley) last year and went to New Englands together,” Fletcher said.

Their baseball IQ helped the Mustangs manufacture early runs while Lisbon ace Ryan Riordan kept the Greyhounds in the game.

Fletcher’s leadoff walk, Goff’s sacrifice bunt and a passed ball set the table for senior Roger Bachelder’s RBI groundout in the first.

Lisbon left fielder Smith’s diving catch triggered an inning-ending double play to squelch the Monmouth second.

In the third, Mike Lent led off with a single and stole second. Fletcher bunted him to third, and Goff’s grounder made it 2-0.

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Goff reached base when the ball was dropped at first. He swiped second and third and crossed the plate on Blake Burnham’s bouncer to second.

“That’s our thing. We’re going to hit and run. We’re going to bunt,” Palleschi said. “We were able to execute stuff and get into good situations. We got their pitcher back on his heels and took advantage of it.”

Three walks and three hit batters provided most of the fuel for a 10-spot in the fourth. Fletcher and Goff delivered RBI singles. McHugh’s base knock ushered home a pair. Tyler Nadeau also cranked a run-producing double.

Chyle Cameron’s third-inning single was the extent of early offense for Lisbon (0-2), which features only three returning players from last year’s Western Class B playoff team.

“I really think this team needs games,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “It’s been hard to get them in game situations. We’ve done some things in practice to try to mimic the game, to get these guys mentally prepared, but it’s been very hard.”

Both teams were saddled with multiple rainouts this week.

Monmouth played two innings Thursday against Hall-Dale before the weather intervened. That game will be made up at noon Saturday.

“We have six days in nine days. And that includes Sunday when you can’t do anything,” Palleschi said. “It’s a good thing we can’t do anything on Sunday, because we’re going to need an off day.”

koakes@sunjournal.com


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