MONMOUTH — They won close, and they won easy. No matter the score, though, the Monmouth Academy baseball just simply won during the regular season.

Sixteen games, 16 wins.

It was a fitting no-loss record for a team that didn’t suffer any losses to graduation last year. The Mustangs brought back the same talented roster from a squad that went 9-7 in the Mountain Valley Conference.

The league knew that Monmouth could mighty this year, but going unblemished is a tall task.

“At the beginning of the year you could see we had ability, motivation and attitude, is what we kind of formed our team around,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “We figured we have the ability, the motivation. We really just needed to put that attitude with the ability, and they’ve done a good job with that so far this year. They’ve stayed focused, we play loose, kids just enjoy the game and play it the right way.”

The season started with a bang for the Mustangs, beating perennial MVC powerhouse Dirigo 7-1 in the opener, and win-happy Winthrop 12-2 the next game. Monmouth powered its way through the first five games, then ran into back-to-back nail-biters.

The Mustangs had to rally multiple times to beat Lisbon 6-5, then two days later held of St. Dominic Academy for a 4-3 win.

“We played each game one game at a time,” Palleschi said.

Monmouth had some more easy victories after the consecutive close ones, but had some more tight wins against Mountain Valley and in a rematch with Dirigo. Even a season-finale 5-1 win over Winthrop included some tense moments.

“Every game down the stretch was tough,” said Palleschi, whose team didn’t have to look far behind in the standings to see 14-2 St. Dom’s and Madison, and 13-3 Sacopee Valley of the Western Maine Conference.

The Mustangs’ biggest strength has been pitching. In half of their wins, they gave up two runs or fewer, and gave up three a trio of times. It all starts with Monmouth’s trio of starters: seniors Nick Sanborn and Chandler Harris and junior Hunter Richardson.

“We felt like we’ve had the most arms,” Palleschi said, “so we weren’t worried about matchups, we just go out there and throw.”

To go along with the strong pitching, the Mustangs add a move-around-the-bases offense that starts with senior leadoff hitter Gage Cote and the hard-to-quantify team chemistry.

“We just have a lot of team chemistry,” Sanborn said. “It all just links up fine. Taking everything serious, then having fun later. We know when to stop goofing around, I guess.”

The exception to that last part is junior Travis Hartford, who Palleschi said doesn’t stop talking.

But like the rest of the players, Hartford produces.

“I had said that this is one of the best teams I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Palleschi, who has led the Mustangs for 12 years.

“I knew we were going to be good, but I mean…I don’t know,” Sanborn said after beating Winthrop to finish 16-0, in disbelief that his team was able to accomplish an undefeated regular season.

The Mustangs won’t be devoid of that losing feeling heading into the Class C South postseason, however. On Thursday, Monmouth fell to St. Dom’s in the exhibition MVC Championship game, 5-1. But that won’t slow the momentum Monmouth accrued through its 16 countable games.

“Hopefully just keep playing what we’re doing,” Sanborn said. “If we keep playing what we’re doing we’ll be fine. As long as we play as we usually do we’ll be fine.”

The Mustangs are hoping a momentum boost will help them push farther in the playoffs than where they’ve stopped in the previous two postseasons, when they fell in the regional semifinals.

“That’s on the top of their brains right now. They don’t want to be three years in a row in the same place,” Palleschi said. “I think they’ll stay focused and I think we’ll keep moving, keep working.”

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