E.A. Sports Today

Cutting it close

Choccolocco Monsters fall to Waleska on road 11-6, miss chance to gain ground in the wild card race, only four games left

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WALESKA, Ga. – The Choccolocco Monsters are running out of time and manager Steve Gillispie knows it.

The Monsters missed a chance to gain some ground in the ever tightening Sunbelt Baseball League wild card race when they lost to the Waleska Wild Things 11-6 at Reinhardt University Wednesday night.

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Two of the teams they’re chasing for the wild card spot, the Atlanta Blues and division rival Gwinnett Astros, both lost, but the Monsters couldn’t take advantage.

They are a game and a half behind Brookhaven, which currently holds the final spot, two and a half games behind the current No. 5 Blues and a half-game behind the Astros, who have three left with West leading Columbus.

The Monsters have four games left in five days to make up the difference – two at home against the Blues this weekend and a home-and-home with Columbus Monday and Tuesday.

“You almost need to win out, depending on what kind of help you get,” Gillispie said. “It’s definitely not a pretty picture.

“A week ago at this time we’re sitting in the playoff chase and it’s just kind of fallen apart during the last couple games. It’s disappointing we couldn’t sustain the good things that we were doing a little longer.”

The Monsters (9-15) made it interesting. They scored four runs in the sixth to get within a run after trailing 7-2 early, but the Wild Things (13-9) answered with a pair of two-out, two-run homers in the bottom of the inning to wipe out all the gains.

Daniel Swatek was the first Monsters pitcher to hold the Wild Things to a scoreless inning in the game and was close to doing it a second time when 10-hole hitter A.J. Fiechter hit a two-run homer into a favorably wind. After Chris Cole kept the inning alive with a single, Micah Morgan launched a two-run opposite field homer to make it 11-6.

“It was deflating because you had your guy out there who had been really good for you over the course of the summer,” Gillispie said.

Morgan and Ricardo Leonett both had three hits for the Wild Things. Brett Blomquist and Fiechter had two apiece.

Once the Wild Things stretched the lead, Evan Langston threw three shutout innings – facing 10 batters – to earn a save.

The Monsters sent nine men to the plate in the sixth against three Waleska pitchers to get within a run. William Kelley had the big hit in the inning, a two-run, bases-loaded double. They scored the first run of the inning on a double play and Wyatt Fooks singled home the last run of the inning.

Dom Scavone, Kelley and Fooks had two hits apiece for the Monsters. Brant Deerman singled home the Monsters’ first run in the first inning, then it was all Wild Things until the Monsters got Waleska starter Nathan Alexander out of the game.

“We didn’t give up,” Gillispie said. “We just didn’t have the pitching outcome (they were looking for).”

MONSTERS MASH: The Monsters sent infielder Wendell Perry to pitch the ninth. Perry threw up a zero, walking two and striking out one. “He pitched in high school and he’s going to a junior college to be a two-day guy,” Gillispie said …The team raised more than $1,600 for the Ronald McDonald House from the sale of its gold Chocco jerseys last week … Home game winner Austin Goode, a projected starter in one of the final four games, wants to continue playing now that he’s graduated West Alabama. He wasn’t taken in this week’s MLB Draft and is considering looking for an independent team … Tremarr Johnson, the fourth overall pick in Sunday’s MLB Draft (Pittsburgh), played for the Atlanta Blues.

Choccolocco   100 104 000 –   6  11  2
Waleska          114 104 00x – 11  13  2 
WP: Nathan Alexander (2-1). LP: Alexander McKay (0-3). S: Evan Langston (2). 2B: William Kelley (C), Ricardo Leonett (W), Brett Blomquist (W), A.J. Fiechter (W). HR: A.J. Fiechter (W), Micah Morgan (W).

Sunbelt Baseball League standings

EAST DIVISIONWLPCT.GB
x-Gainesville GolDiggers186.750
Waleska Wild Things13105654.5
Alpharetta Aviators617.26111.5
CENTRAL DIVISION
x-Atlanta Crackers1510.600
Atlanta Blues1213.4803
Brookhaven Bucks1114.4404
WEST DIVISION
Columbus Chatt-a-Hoots149.609
Gwinnett Astros913.4094.5
Choccolocco Monsters915.3755.5

x-Clinched a playoff spot

Wednesday’s Games
Alpharetta 7, Atlanta Blues 1
Brookhaven 13, Atlanta Crackers 2
Gainesville 4, Gwinnett 0
Waleska 11, Choccolocco 6

Thursday’s Game
Atlanta Crackers 4, Waleska 3

Friday’s Games
Brookhaven at Gainesville, 5:35 p.m.
Gwinnett at Columbus, 6:05 p.m.
Waleska at Alpharetta, 6:05 p.m.
Atlanta Blues at Choccolocco, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday’s Games
Gwinnett at Columbus (2), 3:05 p.m.
Atlanta Crackers at Brookhaven, 5:35 p.m.
Atlanta Blues at Choccolocco, 6:05 p.m.
Waleska at Alpharetta, 6:05 p.m.

Playoff standings

DIVISION LEADERSWL
Gainesville186East
Atlanta Crackers1510Central
Columbus149West
WILD CARDSWLSEED
Waleska1310No. 4
Atlanta Blues1213No. 5
Brookhaven1114No. 6
BUBBLEWLGB
Gwinnett9130.5
Choccolocco9151.5
Alpharetta6174


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