E.A. Sports Today

Minus manager, Monsters fall

Choccolocco Monsters score first and last runs of the game, but don’t get much in between; Gillispie called away prior to the game

Saturday’s SBL Games
Brookhaven 11, Atlanta Blues 10, 11 inns.
Gainesville 7, Choccolocco 2
Gwinnett 4, Columbus 2
Waleska 8, Alpharetta 3

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — If they could ever get all three phases of their game in sync, the Choccolocco Monsters are convinced they could make a run in their first Sunbelt Baseball League season.

The pitching has come and sometimes gone, but when they have pitched well these first two weeks of the season – as they did Saturday night – the bats and the defense have left them hanging.

It was more about the bats Saturday night. The Monsters scored the first and last runs of the game, but there wasn’t a lot in between and they lost to the Gainesville GolDiggers 7-2.

They already had one of the lowest team batting averages in the nine-team league and didn’t do much to raise it against Gainesville starter Tyler Dietz and two relievers. They went 6-for-32 in the game to reduce their team average to .193 and are last in 10 offensive categories.

They grabbed a first-inning lead for the third straight game, but managed only two hits over the next seven innings before scoring again in the ninth after the GolDiggers put it out of reach.

Monsters starter Garrett Telaga and A.J. Jarrell pitched well enough for them to win and get back to. 500, but they didn’t get much run support. They did put the leadoff runner in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings when it was still a game, but the GolDiggers turned them back.

The Monsters were thrown a curve at the start when manager Steve Gillispie was called home before the game to deal with an undisclosed non-emergency situation. He texted the players and coaches during the game to reassure them everything was good.

“He left us with a lineup, we knew who we had available pitching wise,” coach DeWayne Crowder said. “Telaga was on a pitch count. I just told him to take it as far as you can go. He did a good job first two innings, got us to the third and held it down. I told the other guys be ready; we might throw the house at them. I felt like all our pitchers did a good job of keeping us in the game. We’ve just got to compete and back them up.

“When our pitchers are throwing strikes, getting ground balls, we’ve got to make the plays and on offense … we’ve got to execute. We’ve got to win every inning in order to stay in the game, give ourselves a chance. When we make errors and strikeout we don’t give ourselves a chance. We have a lot of talented players in our locker room. I feel like if we put a whole game together we’re unbeatable. We’ve done it in other games we’ve played. If we’d just play and compete, we’ll win.”

Telaga, excited to be starting his first game that counted in 2½ years after undergoing Tommy John surgery in high school, retired the first six batters he faced and gave up two hits in his three innings. Jarrell gave up four hits in his three innings. Both gave up two runs. Nathan Shipley pitched a 1-2-3 seventh.

“It feels really great to be back out there on the bump,” said Telaga, a 6-6 right-hander from Jacksonville State. ”A lot of adrenaline running, it feels really good. Arm’s feeling really loose. Just trying to pound the zone and stay loose.”

Jackson Mayo hit a two-run double off Telaga in the third inning to give Gainesville a 2-1 lead. The GolDiggers extended it to 4-1 in the sixth on John Anderson’s RBI double and Will Mangurian’s run-scoring ground out that Monsters second baseman Josh Cooper kept from turning into more. Anderson and Mangurian both hit three-run homers in the seventh-inning that sparked Friday’s win.

They made it 7-1 in the ninth on Bobby Boser’s sacrifice fly, Caleb Ellard’s RBI single and a throwing error.

MONSTERS MASH: Two new players were added to the Monsters roster Saturday – Weston Kirk (Spring Garden/L.B. Wallace) and Jackson Sweatt (Pell City/undecided) … With their five-game runs, the GolDiggers and Waleska Wild Things share the longest active winning streak in the league … The Monsters travel to the slumping Alpharetta Aviators Monday and Wednesday before returning home against the Atlanta Crackers on Fireworks Friday and Saturday. The Aviators, last year’s league champs, have lost five in a row and are hitting .169 as a team in eight games

Gainesville         002 002 003 – 7 9 0
Choccolocco       100 000 001 – 2 6 4
WP: Tyler Dietz (2-0). LP: Garrett Telaga (0-1). 2B: Jackson Mayo (G), John Anderson (G), Brennan McCullough (C), Dawson Winningham (C). 

Sunbelt Baseball League standings

Waleska Wild Things51.833
Gainesville GolDiggers52.7140.5
Alpharetta Aviators26.2504
Atlanta Crackers43.571
Atlanta Blues44.5000.5
Brookhaven Bucks33.5000.5
Gwinnett Astros33.500
Choccolocco Monsters24.3331
Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots24.3331

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