FARMINGDALE — Monmouth’s Avery Amero paid close attention from the on-deck circle as Hall-Dale reliever Cole Lockhart took his warm-ups in the seventh inning of a tie game.

“I kind of measured his speed to see how hard he was throwing and where it was going to be,” Amero said. “I timed it up right so my bat was at the center and hit the ball dead center and hopefully hit the ball up the middle.”

Amero ended up going a little left of center, but he squared the ball up enough to drive Travis Hartford home with what proved to be the winning run in the Mustangs’ 7-5 victory on Wednesday.

Hall-Dale nearly got away with sending starting pitcher Dean Jackman out for a seventh inning, even though he was perilously close (105) to the new 110-pitch pitch-count restriction.

But after two quick outs, Hartford beat out an infield single on a slow grounder to second to keep the inning alive. Not only did Jackman have to call it a day, an errant throw to get Hartford at first allowed Hartford to move into scoring position. 

Hartford scored easily on Amero’s single, then pinch-runner Mat Foulke scored an insurance run, hustling all the way from first on a shallow pop to right field that umpires ruled had been dropped, although Hall-Dale disputed the call.

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Monmouth improves to 8-3 and picks up some welcome Heal points from the Bulldogs (6-4), one of several teams battling the Mustangs for a high seed in Class C South.

“Games like this, late in the year … This is a playoff-type atmosphere,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “(Hall-Dale) and us, we’re fighting for the top four (in the Heal point standings), so this is a playoff-type game, and it’s nice to see our kids be able to make adjustments.”

“Avery’s been in a little bit of a slump. It’s nice to see him come up with a big hit,” Palleschi added.

Amero also picked up the victory on the mound with two innings of scoreless relief following starter Hunter Richardson, who himself was the victim of the pitch-count limit, which he reached after five innings.

Amero entered to start the sixth inning of a 5-5 game and set the Bulldogs down in order. He only allowed what turned out to be a harmless walk with two out in the seventh before finishing it off.

“For the first year of really playing varsity baseball, this is all sort of new,” said Amero, a senior right-hander. “I was a little bit nervous at first, but after I kept going, I felt better.”

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Both starters could have gone deeper into the game if they had more help from their defense. Monmouth committed six errors, Hall-Dale four.

Three Mustang miscues in the second helped the Bulldogs break a 1-1 tie with three runs. Hall-Dale returned the favor with two errors in the third, which led to two unearned runs and cut the lead to 4-3.

Monmouth scored two more in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Nick Dovinsky tied it with a flare single to right that scored Richardson. Dovinsky later scored on a fielder’s choice.

“It’s a great group. It’s a very resilient group,” Palleschi said. “They don’t quit any time with anything, and you like that.”

Hall-Dale started its half of the fifth with three singles in a row, with Alec Byron’s infield hit driving in the tying run. But Richardson kept it at 5-5 by catching a pop fly bunt attempt, a fly out to left and a strikeout.

Richardson went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Corey Armstrong also went 3-for-4 for the Mustangs. 

Lockhart, Byron and Akira Warren had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

“We can take a lot away from just the fact that we were in this game all the way through into the seventh inning and it just didn’t go our way,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “We can develop some confidence from this tough loss.”


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