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Rob Potter | Democrat

Umpire Dave Slater, right, watches closely as Monticello’s Bobby Wagner slides across home plate to score a run as the ball gets by Tri-Valley catcher Steve McInerney in the bottom of the fourth inning of Friday’s opening round game of the third annual John Spear Memorial Baseball Tournament at Monticello High School.

Monticello defeats
T-V Bears, 11 - 3

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — May 11, 2010 — The Monticello Panthers took an early lead and didn’t look back on their way to an 11-3 win over the Tri-Valley Bears on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the John Spear Memorial Baseball Tournament at Monticello High School.
This is the third year the tournament was held to honor Spear, a beloved baseball coach and teacher at Monticello High School who lost his life in a car accident in January 2007.
During the opening ceremonies prior to the game, a stone monument built by Steve Duarte, who was one of Spear’s assistant coaches, was dedicated. Two men who also served as Spear’s assistant coaches over the years, Kevin Doherty and Walt Saunders, joined Spear’s wife Elaine, son David, High School Principal Arleene Siegel, Assistant High School Principal Virginia Morse, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Support Services Gladys Baxter, Program Evaluator Carl Solomon, Board of Education President Alyce Van Etten and Monticello Athletic Director Doug Murphy at the pitcher’s mound.
“Three years ago, we lost John Spear, a dedicated husband, father, friend, teacher and coach,” Murphy said. “I know John is looking down on us today. We miss you, John.”
David Spear then threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
When the game started, Monticello (9-5) wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Serafin Rodriguez reached base on an error and promptly stole second base. Following a strikeout, Rodriguez scored to give Monticello a 1-0 lead when Jesse Levine reached base on another error by the Bears.
The Panthers added three runs in the bottom of the third. Anthony Gray and Chris Schnabel each had an RBI single and Gray scored on a passed ball.
T-V (8-5-1) answered with a run in the top of the fourth. The first batter of the frame, Dan Byrne, bunted. The subsequent throw to first base was errant, which allowed Byrne to go to second base. He then scored when Joe Mickelson reached base on an error.
Monticello pushed its advantage to 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Patrick Ripa led off with a single and later crossed home plate on an error. Bobby Wagner scored when Rodriguez singled to right field and Rodriguez scored on a groundout by Levine.
With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth, Bobby Beale walked to enable Peter DiMilia to cross the plate. Steven McInerney scored on Byrne’s sacrifice fly to cut the Bears’ deficit to 7-3.
The Panthers extended their lead to 11-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
With the bases loaded and one out, Shane Jackson scored when Levine was hit by a pitch. Rodriguez and Sean Reuss both scored on an error. Levine scored the final run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Schnabel.
In the top of the seventh, T-V put two runners on base with one out. But the Monticello pitcher, Wagner, struck out the next two batters to end the game. Wagner had 12 strikeouts and gave up just three hits while earning the complete-game victory.
“We made some mistakes and Monticello, being a good team, took advantage of them,” T-V Coach John Rusin said.
“But we kept our heads up and kept playing hard,” he added.
Monticello Coach Mike Marra was pleased with how his team played.
“We played good baseball,” he said of the Panthers, who won their seventh straight game. “Tri-Valley made some mistakes and we took advantage of them. That’s what we have been doing during this win streak. When the other team makes a mistake, we make it hurt.
“Bobby Wagner pitched very, very well today,” Marra added. “After they scored a couple of runs in the top of the fifth, he went down and threw some pitches in the bullpen while we batted in the bottom of the fifth. That helped him because when he went back out in the top of the sixth, he slowed down and focused on his pitches.”
Note: In Friday afternoon’s other opening round tournament game, the Ellenville Blue Devils defeated the host Liberty Indians, 4-0.
Jesse Hufnagel and Forrest Kirsch each had two hits for Liberty (3-9).

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