By Rob Potter
ELDRED The Monticello Panthers earned their second win of the baseball season on Tuesday afternoon.
Monticello overcame an early deficit to defeat the host Eldred Yellowjackets, 5-1, in a non-league game.
Eldred (4-4) took a 1-0 advantage when Bob Morrigia led off the bottom of the second inning with a home run to left field.
But the Panthers tied the game in the top of the third.
Anthony D’Abbraccio began the frame by bunting the ball down the third base line.
The throw to first base was errant, which enabled D’Abbraccio to move to second base. After reaching third base on a passed ball, D’Abbraccio scored on a groundout by Bobby Wagner.
Monticello (2-8) took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth when Billy Albronda reached on an error, stole third base and crossed home plate on a groundout.
Erik Mayberg began the top of the sixth with a home run to left field to give Monticello a 3-1 advantage. The Panthers added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
D’Abbraccio hit a one-out single and scored moments later as Wagner grounded out. Mayberg picked up his second RBI of the afternoon when he singled home Jesse Levine.
Levine earned the victory on the mound for the Panthers.
“I like the way this team is playing,” Monticello Coach Rob Keesler said. “The whole group is working together and improving.”
Keesler especially noted the performance of freshman pitcher Patrick Ripa, who relieved Levine with no outs and two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth. Ripa prevented the Yellowjackets from narrowing the Panthers’ 3-1 advantage by striking out the first batter he faced, catching a low line drive for the second out of the inning and then recording another strikeout to end the frame.
“He has been outstanding lately,” Keesler said.
“Our defense was very good today, I think this was the first time all season we didn’t make an error,” Keesler added.
Justin Smith, who went 2-for-3 with a double, and Morrigia paced the Yellowjackets’ offensive attack.
But Eldred was unable to rally after Monticello took the lead.
In addition to their opportunity in the sixth, the Yellowjackets had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the fourth and failed to score. Eldred also had a runner on base with one out in the seventh and could not score.
“We just didn’t get the clutch hits today,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said.