MONMOUTH — Nick Sanborn doesn’t mind being on the wrong side of the scoreboard, or making the quick transition from the bench to the belly of the beast.

For the second time in as many weeks, the sophomore left-hander’s scoreless relief stint steered Monmouth to victory over a potential Class C West baseball playoff opponent. Sanborn allowed only four hits and struck out five Friday afternoon while Monmouth rallied to a 5-3 MVC win over Lisbon, completing a doubleheader sweep at Chick Field.

“He’s been steady all year long,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “He came in, kept us in the game and gave our bats a chance.”

Those same bats dealt Lisbon a 19-1 thrashing over five innings in the opener, backing up a tidy effort by senior southpaw Kyle Fletcher. It was the Mustangs’ seventh double-digit run output of the season.

Fletcher also was 4-for-6 with five runs scored and an RBI in the twinbill for Monmouth (12-1), which leapfrogged Dirigo and St. Dom’s to the No. 1 spot in the Heal Point standings.

“This is a great sweep,” said Sanborn, who had a similar shutdown showing when his team rallied from a 5-0 disparity to a 10-5 triumph at Winthrop. “They’re a good team. That’s what we needed.”

Lisbon (9-4) also achieved most of what coach Randy Ridley was seeking from the short road trip.

After the Greyhounds got the opener out of their system, ace Kyle Bourget (seven hits, 11 strikeouts, one walk) served up a brilliant start in the nightcap. R.J. Sargent was 3-for-3 with a run scored for young Lisbon, which proved that it wasn’t out of its league against a state title contender.

“In talking with a couple of people, I really feel we were in awe of being in such a big game. None of these kids had been in a big game like this in their career yet. It’s a good experience for us to learn to get used to that,” Ridley said. “I thought that was the best game of the year for my boys, the second game. It was a lot of fun.”

Lisbon jumped out 1-0 in the first on the strength of Bourget’s two-out double and Joe Phibrick’s RBI single off Alex Curtis. Monmouth matched that tally in the bottom of the inning, also with two out, when Curtis followed Fletcher’s triple with a base hit.

Sanborn inherited a hornet’s nest after Sargent and Bourget drew walks against Curtis to start the third. Those troubles deepened with a passed ball and a wild pitch. The latter allowed Sargent to score, and Bourget made it 3-1 when catcher Phil Rowe’s throw to the plate eluded Sanborn.

“At first I was having trouble getting the outside of the plate. Then I started getting used to the mound and started to get comfortable, and my curve ball started working really well for me,” Sanborn said.

He escaped a first-and-third jam in the fourth by getting Tucker Brannon to fly out. Brannon was the first of seven consecutive Lisbon batters retired by Sanborn, and Lisbon’s catcher was the only one to hit a ball out of the infield in that stretch.

Bourget’s streak of seven was even more scintillating — all strikeouts, including the side in the second and third. But Fletcher’s leadoff walk in the fourth set the table for a two-out double by D.J. McHugh that cut the deficit in half.

Sanborn’s leadoff single started the go-ahead rally in the fifth. Brett Wilson’s sacrifice bunt and a passed ball preceded the equalizer, a single to right by Brandon Goff.

Goff stole second, and Fletcher’s two-out single put the Mustangs in front.

“Bourget was on, throwing well, kept us off balance. We got guys on and had to manufacture runs,” Palleschi said. “That’s tough to do. You come off the first game, score 19 runs and have to come back. This was a playoff game, a playoff-type atmosphere.”

Bourget hit Jariah Caissie to open the sixth. McHugh’s sacrifice bunt put him in position for Rowe’s fifth RBI of the afternoon, a rope to right field. Rowe also belted a bases-loaded triple and had a sacrifice fly in the opener.

“It’s exciting,” Rowe said. “We’re 12-1 now. I guess we can’t let it get to our heads.”

Sargent’s third hit of the game gave Lisbon life in the seventh, but Sanborn got a grounder from Bourget and struck out Brannon and Philbrick to end it.

“Phil being able to get that hit and get that run in, two runs going into that last inning is a lot better than one run,” Palleschi said. “Being able to put those bunts down when we needed it was big. We made the plays when we needed to. They had a heck of a game.”

Lisbon’s two previous attempts to host the opening game of the series were rained out. Monmouth played the role of visiting team in the third try and poured it on in a different manner, batting around and plating four runs in the top of the first against Greyhounds freshman Tyler Halls.

It was 9-0 in the fourth before Lisbon broke up Fletcher’s shutout bid with a Bourget triple and Brannon groundout. Monmouth responded with 10 runs on 10 hits in the fifth at the expense of relievers Noah Francis and Sargent.

“We made some good contact against him, made some good plays, but once they started rolling there wasn’t anything we could do,” Ridley said.

Caissie was 3-for-5 in the opener. Goff, Fletcher, Weeks and Hunter Richardson each supplied two of Monmouth’s 18 hits.

Fletcher scattered five hits and struck out five.


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