By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, NY — The Monroe Community College nine ran their head-to-head streak against Erie CC to three. A fourth victory slipped out of reach.
Collin Stack pitched Monroe to a win in game one as the Tribunes (11-13/0-2) split (6-1/3-6) with the Erie Community College Kats (11-10) in non-conference action at Tribune Field, Tuesday.
Stack struck out three and walked one for his second victory of the season.
“The thing that Collin has is three pitches he can throw for strikes,” Monroe head coach Dave Brust said.
The right-hander stranded eight and worked out of a two bases loaded jams.
“He’s slippery enough where he’ll induce a double play ball,” Brust added.
Monroe’s offense hung deuces on the board in the second, fifth and sixth innings.
Heads up baserunning pushed across a pair in the second. Tommy LaCongo came to the plate against Erie starter, Dan Todoschuk, with the bases loaded, one out and sent a ground ball to short. While the MCC catcher beat the throw to first for what would have been an inning-ending double play, Matt Brooks turned at third and scampered home behind Angel Diaz.
“Stack had the privilege of a lead,” Brust noted. “He had the privilege of a little more offense that game.”
Luke Brust added insurance runs in the sixth. The freshman designated hitter worked the count full before taking an outside pitch to right field plating Diaz and Brooks for the black and gold’s fifth and sixth runs.
Zach Vennaro tossed a pair of scoreless innings in relief. The right-hander retired the side in order in the sixth.
Fittingly, the game ended with a double play as Tribune second baseman, Hunter Merrill, fielded a ground ball, tagged the runner and deftly spun before firing on to first for the final out of the game.
The Tribs erased a three-run deficit in the night cap, but a pinch hit home run in the eighth proved their undoing.
Brooks brought home a run with a ground ball. Luke Brust plated another in a two-run sixth, but it ended up being too little, too late.
“We had them on the ropes that inning,” Brust said. “It should have been right cross, knock out. You can’t beat up a team for three games and expect they’re going to roll over for you.”
LaCongo reached on a hit by pitch. Merrill walked to load the bases, but Monroe failed to capitalize.
“They gave it to us,” Brust added. “They were looking to get knocked out.”
Latona doubled and scored to knot the game at three in the seventh.
“We got to get greedy,” Brust continued.
Matt Lahn sent the Tribs to the canvas with a haymaker in the eighth – a one-out three-run shot well beyond the fence in right field.
“That was crushed,” Brust said.
The Tribunes barely answered the bell in the home half with the first two batters going down on strikes.
But the Monroe skipper pointed to the two runs in the third off starter Ryan Quackenbush as the team’s downfall.
Joel Mendez started the frame with a walk. Jurry Hanson beat out a sacrifice bunt. Evan Ryan brought home a run with a single and another came home on double steal.
“Quack is still battling not getting ahead of hitters.” Brust explained. “He makes really good pitches to get out of it. You tip your cap to that, but he’d be way more effective with strike one.”
The Kats could have scored more if not for a fine defensive play by Diaz who charged from first on a sacrifice bunt and threw out the lead runner at the third for the first out of the inning.
“The leadoff walk is frustrating. There’s nobody on base. You just threw five, six, seven, eight warmup pitches. There are very few guys we face who are just going to smash it 400 feet the first pitched offered.”
Monroe’s infield turned five double plays on the afternoon.
Monroe travels to Genesee CC on Thursday for a WNYAC doubleheader with the Cougars. A 1 p.m. first pitch is scheduled. The same two teams meet Saturday at Tribune field.