E.A. Sports Today

Monsters break out

Choccolocco Monsters set franchise records for runs, hits in rout of Astros to snap a three-game losing streak

Monday’s SBL Games
Atlanta Blues 12, Columbus 0
Brookhaven 5, Alpharetta 0
Choccolocco 12, Gwinnett 6
Gainesville 8, Waleska 2

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The Choccolocco Monsters would like to get to .500 by the midpoint in their first Sunbelt Baseball League season, a milepost that comes at the end of Saturday’s game. It’ll take some work, but it’s doable.

NEXT: Wednesday at Gwinnett, 6:05 p.m.
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They will have to sweep the week to make it happen, but they took a big first step towards it Monday, setting single-game franchise records for runs and hits in a 12-6 win over the Gwinnett Astros.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak and allowed them to gain a game in the standings on both of the other teams in the SBL West. Adding to the importance of the week is all four games are with their two West rivals.

“That would be a great place to be at that part of the season the way it started and the way we had given away a few,” Monsters manager Steve Gillispie said. “We weren’t far away from sweeping last week; we had opportunities.

“I think the kids understand they can compete when we stay clean, when we have good at bats and execute and play some situational baseball. To keep putting those kinds of outings together is more important to me than the record because if you can continue to do that the record will take care of itself.

“Looking at long term, if we can be pretty clean the rest of this week and then get a decent start to the next 10 games and can come out of those 15 games 9-6, 10-5, then I think they’d feel pretty good about themselves and about a chance to win the division.”

The Monsters (4-7) scored their 12 runs on 15 hits. Nine of their 10 starters had at least one and five had at least two. Josh Cooper had three hits and three RBIs.

Brandon Prince, Nate Shipley, Brant Deerman and Jake Spivey all had two hits. Shipley, Tanner Martin and Brennan McCullough drove in two runs apiece.

“We did some really good things,” Gillispie said. “We hit with a little bit of power, we drove some balls deep, we got some walks and we ran a little bit. It was really a pretty good night offensively all the way around.”

The Monsters’ bats have come alive of late, collecting 39 hits in their last three games. They have raised their team batting average 45 points during that span and 113 points since being no-hit by the Astros in the third game of the year. They are now the third-best hitting team in the league (.246)

“We talked in the opening series after the exhibition games about letting off the clutch and just taking a deep breath and they really have done that,” Gillispie said. “Even some of the times where we had some meltdowns defensively or on the mound we still swung the bat. It was coming. It was just getting back in the swing of things.”

Will Griffith, who pitched into the sixth inning for the second straight start, newcomer Alexander McKay and closer Daniel Swatek gave up only held the Astros to six hits. McKay just joined the team Monday and was sent right to work, throwing 2 1/3 shutout innings and Swatek rebounded from a dreadful outing last time out to set the Astros down in order in the ninth.

Elgin Bennett had two of the Astros’ hits and Devin Warner drove in four runs.

The Monsters scored three runs in the first inning and never trailed. Shipley singled home the first run and two came in on an infield error off the bat of Martin.

Warner’s two-run double drew the Astros within 4-3 in the third, but the Monsters went back up 6-3 in the fifth. The Astros closed to 8-6 in the sixth to chase Griffith, who had thrown 102 pitches, but the Monsters pulled away for good with four in the seventh, highlighted by Cooper’s two-run double.

All four of the Monsters’ victories this season have come on the road.

Choccolocco       301 022 400 – 12 15 2
Gwinnett             102 003 000 –   6   6 3
WP: Will Griffith (1-0). LP: Max Luke (0-2). 2B: J.J. Rapp (C), Brennan McCullough (C), Brant Deerman (C), Josh Cooper (C), Devin Warner (G). 

Sunbelt Baseball League standings

Gainesville GolDiggers93.750
Waleska Wild Things63.6671.5
Alpharetta Aviators39.2506
Atlanta Crackers74.636
Brookhaven Bucks64.6000.5
Atlanta Blues67.4622
Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots56.455
Choccolocco Monsters47.3641
Gwinnett Astros36.3331

Wednesday’s Games
Atlanta Crackers at Brookhaven, 5:35 p.m.
Waleska at Gainesville, 5:35 p.m.
Choccolocco at Gwinnett, 6:05 p.m.
Columbus at Atlanta Blues, 6:05 p.m.

Friday’s Games
Alpharetta at Gainesville, 5:35 p.m.
Brookhaven at Atlanta Blues, 6:05 p.m.
Choccolocco at Columbus, 6:05 p.m.
Gwinnett at Waleska, 6:05 p.m.

Saturday’s Games
Waleska at Atlanta Crackers, 1:05 p.m.
Alpharetta at Gainesville, 5:35 p.m.
Brookhaven at Atlanta Blues, 6:05 p.m.
Columbus at Choccolocco, 6:05 p.m.

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