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Panthers sneak past Ponies
Juda's Steve West (00) swipes second base before Monticello second baseman Al Gierhart can place the tag in the fifth inning of the Panthers' win on Thursday. "Steve got us going that inning with two outs," Juda coach Kyle Krueger said after the game. West would swipe third and score what would be the winning run moments later.
JUDA - The Panthers got a little bit of help from their entire lineup to knock off Monticello 6-3.

"We played well and made all the plays we had to," Juda coach Kyle Krueger said. "Once again, we had no errors and timely hitting. Guys are taking their time at the plate and looking for something good to hit."

Aaron Duecker's solo home run to lead off the home half of the fourth inning gave the Panthers a giant boost of energy as well as their first lead of the night.

"Aaron Duecker had a bunch of big hits," Krueger said.

Monticello got things going in the second inning off Juda starter Beau Benner. With one out, Brandon Holz and Michael Elzon walked. The Ponies averted disaster on a Jacob Marty lineout to first base, with Elzon diving back to the bag in the nick of time.

With two outs, Cole Henning singled to center to load the bases then leadoff hitter Tyler Ritschard dropped a fly into shallow left center to score the first run. Al Gierhart then singled on a ground ball through the hole between second and third, and Monticello posted a 2-0 lead.

Juda evened the score in the third off of the lefty, Holz. Christian Melton reached on an error, Brandon Bauman walked and Benner singled to center to drive in the first run. A sacrifice fly by Steve West two batters later tied the game.

Monticello was held scoreless in the fourth, stranding a pair of runners.

In the game, the Ponies left 15 runners on base, including bases loaded twice.

"We had opportunities to score throughout the game, but we kept leaving guys on base," Monticello head coach Jason Pinnow said.

Duecker then stepped up and roped the second pitch he saw from Holz in the fourth over the short porch in left center.

"As soon as he hit it I knew it was gone. But you can expect those kind of things to happen at that field, especially if you get the ball up in the air," Pinnow said. "Branon left the ball up in the zone, and Duecker just hit it out."

The Panthers added two more in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. West singled to right and immediately stole second and third. Holz walked Tyler Pierce for the second time of the night and Pierce swiped second on a fielder's indifference. Duecker followed with a base knock to left to score both runs.

"Steve got us going that inning, and with two outs," Krueger said.

Facing reliever Cory McGowan in the sixth, again with two outs, this time, Dylan Bauman scored on second after a throwing error by Henning at third base.

Monticello loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with one out when Gierhart drove in a run on a fielders choice to third. The threat ended with McGowan flying out to center.

"I think everybody is pleased with where we've come," Krueger said. "We're still going to get better though. In two weeks when we hit the playoff push we'll be the best we've ever been."

Benner, who had nine strikeouts and eight walks in the complete game win, had a pair of hits for Juda, as did Duecker and Bryan Bauman.

"This wasn't Beau's best performance on the mound, but it got us by," Krueger said.

McGowan and Henning each had two hits for Monticello, and cleanup hitter Casey Klossner was 3-for-4. Ritschard had a hit and walked twice and Holz walked three times.

"We had 11 hits in the game; so, we were getting the hits, but never in the right spot," Pinnow said. "That's been our problem all year."