AUBURN — Chandler Harris knew what was best for his team.

The Monmouth Mustangs pitcher, who threw six strong innings which included four 1-2-3 innings, told coach Eric Palleschi if the Saints got one batter on in the seventh, it was time to bring on Nick Sanborn to close out the game.

“I said that because the last time at the top of the order they kind of rallied off me in the gaps,” Harris said. “I just figured if they (got) a hit again. I (didn’t)  want them to rally like that again. So, I just (said) take me out and Nick can takeover.”

With one out the bottom of the seventh, up 4-2, Harris gave up single to Henry Harris. Sanborn came in and gave up a hit to Riley Volpe. After a strikeout, Sanborn walked the Saints lead-off hitter Bobby Shelley to load the bases. The next batter, Nate Richard, appeared to foul the ball off as a distinct “ping” sound was heard, but the umpire ruled Richard was hit by pitch. After a conference with the second ump, the decision stood and the third run came in for St. Dom’s. Sanborn regrouped and got Gavin Bates to fly out to the center fielder as the Mustangs held on 4-3 victory in a key Class C South battle.

Harris who mixed a fastball and a curve all game long had the Saints either going after the fist pitch or swinging through the ball. Sanborn brought some heat, which the Saints were ready for.

“I think they focused a little more, a little more serious focus on (Sanborn),” St. Dom’s coach Bob Blackman said. “He’s a big guy throwing downhill hard. I also think it’s tough to come in the seventh. A big guy like that, you need time to warm up and get ready. I think we caught him at the right moment. We had our chances and he was a little bit wild. We swung at ball four (for the second out) with one guy and we had our best hitter up at the end of the game.

“We didn’t quite get it, a pop up, but I didn’t want it any other way with (Gavin Bates) coming up with a chance to win the game.”

Monmouth improves to 7-0, while the Saints drop to 6-1.

“This is the first time we ever beaten St. Dom’s,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “Monmouth has never beaten them, and when they got that hit-by-pitch, I just wondered what it would really take to do this. I had confidence in the kids and they did it.”

Harris had it going the first three innings as he set the St. Dom’s batters down order the first time through the lineup.

“He did a good job, he’s normally more of a knuckleball pitcher,” Palleschi said. “He throws 70 percent knuckleballs, but with the wind today, he couldn’t get it near the plate. It was cold and he couldn’t grip it. We had to go to the set and he relied on his fastball and curve ball which worked pretty well today. I thought he did a great job. He didn’t throw many pitches. He kept the enough off-balance to get them to pop out.”

Harris allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts as he left with one out in the seventh.

The Mustangs’ first two times at bat ended the same way after they had two runners on in each inning but couldn’t drive them home. In the first inning, Harris hard hit ball was right at the center fielder and Gage Cote’s drag bunt attempt with two outs ended the inning as Saints starting pitcher Volpe threw him out at first base.

Runs came in the top and bottom of the fourth inning. With runners again on second and third, Harris got the ball in the air for a sacrifice fly to bring in Hunter Richardson. A wild pitch allowed Sanborn to score.

In the bottom of the inning, Shelley got on base via a single and stole second. Nate Richard drove in him with a triple. Richard was tagged out coming home on a missed suicide squeeze attempt by Justin Keaney. Keaney did get on base by a throwing error by the third baseman and reached second base. Autin Roy’s RBI double brought home Keaney to tie the game. Roy moved to third on a Mack Pelletier single, but they were both left stranded when Hughes popped out.

“It was a squeeze and the batter missed it,” Blackman said of the suicide squeeze. “In a game like this we were playing for one run. The good thing is he followed it up (reaching on base on the throwing error) and ultimately we got a couple of runs there.”

Monmouth struck again in the sixth. After two walks with one out, they scored with two outs when Volpe went to cover first on a Travis Hartford infield grounder. It was a race to the bag and Volpe couldn’t catch the ball from the second baseman and Avery Pomerleau scores to give the Mustangs the 3-2 lead.

They added one more off of Pelletier in the seventh who came on after Monmouth took the lead. Richardson came in for the fourth run as he lead the inning off with a triple on a Harris double.

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