Monmouth’s Nick Dovinsky, right and Trevor Flanagan celebrate after the final out of Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop.

Monmouth’s Nick Dovinsky, right and Trevor Flanagan celebrate after the final out of Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop.

WINTHROP — Anthony Amero is more comfortable coming out of the proverbial bullpen rather than starting whenever the Monmouth Mustangs need his pitching services.

Amero ended up taking the ball in the first inning of Saturday’s Class C South baseball semifinal against Winthrop anyway, then shut out the Ramblers for the next 6 1/3 innings as the Mustangs rallied for an 8-4 win.

The sixth-seeded Mustangs (11-7) will face top-seeded Lisbon in the regional final at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College. Second-seeded Winthrop, which had beaten Monmouth 3-1 and 15-5 during the regular season, finishes at 11-7.

“I think nerves kind of get to me. Being my first year (of varsity), all of this is kind of new to me,” said Amero, a senior. “So I like to have somebody coming in before me and then coming in and sweeping up.” 

“You ask for seniors to step up at the end and he did,” Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. “Avery doesn’t like starting games. He likes coming in. It was a little earlier than we wanted to bring him in, but I thought he did a great job.”

Amero also drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-run triple in the fifth to lead Monmouth’s 16-hit attack. Trevor Flanagan went 4-for-4 with a run scored, while Avery Pomerleau had two hits and drove in three runs.

“We had one of our better hitting days today,” Flanagan said. “I finally got back in my groove today. I’ve had a flaw in my swing that’s been making me hit off the front foot, so now I keep my weight back.”

Amero started the game as the designated hitter but got the call to the mound before he even swung the bat. Pomerleau, the starting pitcher, had trouble finding the plate in the first inning, hitting a batter and walking two, including a bases-loaded walk to Greg Fay. He was lifted after a bobble by the shortstop on Carson Camick’s grounder scored two runs.

The infield defense didn’t help Amero when he first arrived, either, as two more errors allowed Fay to come around to score the Ramblers’ fourth run. Amero finally took matters into his own hands and struck out the 10th batter of the inning, Jackson Ladd, to keep the score at 4-0.

Amero, a senior who hadn’t pitched at the varsity level before this year, proceeded to retire 10 of the next 11 Ramblers, helping his own cause by snaring a Jacob Hickey liner back to the mound in the second.

The Mustangs, who had lost in the last three regional semifinals, including 2015 to Winthrop, started to chip away in their half of the second. Corey Armstrong’s sacrifice fly scored Travis Hartford, who had doubled to lead off the inning, to make it 4-1.

Monmouth got two more hits off Winthrop starter Antonio Meucci in the third but were thwarted when Ladd used the hidden ball trick to erase a runner at first. But the Mustangs kept swinging the bats in the fourth and pulled to within 4-3 on Pomerleau’s two-out, two-run single.

“They hit the ball more than we hit the ball. That’s the bottom line,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “I thought we played better than them defensively. I thought we had some nice at-bats. I thought we hit the ball really hard. Every time we did, it was right at somebody.”

Winthrop brought in Greg Fay to put out the first in the fourth, but he couldn’t quiet the Mustangs’ bats for long. A walk and a single preceded Amero’s two-run triple to right to make it 5-4.

“It definitely feels good to get another hit in. I’ve been in more of a slump lately,” Amero said.

Armstrong followed with a single up the middle to score Amero with an insurance run.

“We had a game plan, had an idea who we were going to see, and knew we had to stay back on the off-speed stuff and hit the ball on the right side of the field,” Palleschi said. “I don’t know how many balls we hit to the right side of the field, but it was quite a few.”

The Ramblers had trouble adjusting Amero’s curve ball but had something brewing in the fifth when a Matt Ingram single and Meucci infield single, compounded by an error, put runner at second and third with one out. But Fay followed with a line drive right at second baseman Mat Foulke, who flipped to Hunter Richardson at the second base bag for the inning-ending 4-6 double play.

After the Mustangs added two more runs in the top of the seventh, the Ramblers tried to get a rally going with a leadoff bunt single by Ladd and a single by Bennett Brooks.

Amero got a force out at second, beaned Ingram, then got Fay to hit a ground ball to Richardson at short. He flipped to Foulke for the force at second on Ingram, who was called for interfering with Foulke as he tried to complete the double play to first. By rule, the runner going to first is ruled out, which ended the game.

Monmouth players stream out of the dugout to congratulate teammate Avery Pomerleau after he scored a run during Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop.

Monmouth players stream out of the dugout to congratulate teammate Avery Pomerleau after he scored a run during Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop.

Monmouth’s Kane Gould slides into second on an attempted stolen base as Winthrop’s Brooks Bennett waits to put the tag on him during Saturday’s playoff game in Winthrop.

Monmouth’s Kane Gould slides into second on an attempted stolen base as Winthrop’s Brooks Bennett waits to put the tag on him during Saturday’s playoff game in Winthrop.

After making a nice play on an infield hit, Monmouth pitcher Avery Pomerleau fires a strike to first to record an out during Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop

After making a nice play on an infield hit, Monmouth pitcher Avery Pomerleau fires a strike to first to record an out during Saturday’s playoff game against Winthrop

Winthrop’s Matt Ingram slides hard into Monmouth’s Matt Foulke on the final play of the game Saturday.

Winthrop’s Matt Ingram slides hard into Monmouth’s Matt Foulke on the final play of the game Saturday.

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