By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO The Sullivan County Thunderheads 17 and Under baseball team earned its first win of the season on Thursday night.
The Thunderheads defeated the host Monticello Ruddick-Trowbridge American Legion Post 73 team, 6-1, in a non-league game at Monticello High School.
The Thunderheads jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cody Exner scored the team’s first run on an error. Moments later, Brad Dreher hit a two-run double to right field to give the Thunderheads a 3-0 advantage.
The Thunderheads scored their final run of the frame on an RBI single by Patrick Graham.
Monticello Post 73 scored what turned out to be its only run of the evening in the bottom of the fifth.
With one out and teammates Connor Briggs and Jonathan Harned on second base and first base, respectively, Ben Kapito reached base on an error to put a runner on each base. Jacob McLachlan then hit an infield ground ball. The Thunderheads tried to force out Briggs at home plate, but Briggs was able to beat the throw and score to make it a 4-1 game.
But the Thunderheads prevented Monticello Post 73 from scoring any additional runs in the frame with a force play at home for the second out and a strikeout by pitcher Dreher.
The Thunderheads added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Ryan McKeon walked and Shawn Markle was hit by a pitch. Both of them crossed home plate when Alex Brown reached base on an error.
Christopher Doherty led off the bottom of the seventh for Monticello Post 73. He struck out, but safely reached first base when the ball got away from the catcher.
But Dreher and the Thunderheads defense got the next three batters out to end the game.
The Thunderheads, who play in the New York Elite Baseball League, improved their season record to 1-2 overall. They are 0-2 in league play.
“It feels good to get a win,” Thunderheads General Manager Ed Townsend said. “We have some pretty tough competition in our league.”
Monticello Post 73, which plays in American Legion District 3, is now 2-4 overall on the season and 1-1 in District 3.
“We didn’t do anything offensively tonight,” Monticello Post 73 Coach Mike Marra said.
But he was quick to point out that many of the team’s players had a good game.
“Dustin Thomas was terrific,” Marra said. “He pitched a great game. Ben Kapito and our catcher Jonathan Harned, who was a freshman last year, both played well.”
Marra, who is also the Coach of the Monticello High School varsity baseball team, noted that playing in the summer gives the team members a chance to improve and be more prepared for the 2012 high school baseball season.
He is also happy to see his team, the Thunderheads and the Catskill Cougars, another 17 and Under baseball team which includes players from the Liberty area, playing this summer.
“A lot of high school players are on these three teams, which is great for high school baseball in Sullivan County,” he commented.
Marra is looking forward to the rest of the regular season, when Monticello Post 73 will be playing fellow District 3 teams Delmar, Kingston, Tilson and Wallkill and then competing in the District 3 Tournament.
“I like the effort our players have made all summer,” Marra said. “Things are progressing very well.”
Notes: On Wednesday night, Monticello Post 73 lost a District 3 game to visiting Kingston Post 150 by the final score of 4-2.
Connor Briggs pitched the entire game for Monticello Post 73. He gave up only four hits and one earned run. He also recorded five strikeouts.
The Monticello Post 73 offense was held in check by Kingston starter Max Cruz, who pitched five innings and registered eight strikeouts.
Anthony Bell had a single in the bottom of the fifth, which was the only hit Monticello Post 73 had against Cruz.
After playing at Wallkill tonight and at Kingston on Thursday, Monticello Post 73 returns home to Monticello High School this Sunday, July 10 for a District 3 double-header versus Delmar. The first game is slated to start at 2 p.m.