Due to a late collapse Thursday morning, the Monroe Catholic Rams were sent to the DII State Baseball Tournament consolation bracket. Their best hope was to finish the season in fourth place.
The way the Rams played Friday and Saturday, however, they certainly looked like state champions.
Saturday’s fourth place game was an absolutely wild affair. The Rams got off to a big lead, fell behind big, and mounted an even bigger comeback to eventually defeat Homer 19-16 to finish the season in fourth place. It was a nice ending to the careers of the Monroe seniors, including Shaun Conwell, Tommy Bast, and Jase McCullough.
Not to mention that however the State Championship went, it’s hard to believe it was as good of a game.
Monroe got off to a hot start as Gabe Angaiak grounded into a fielder’s choice and Aden Sadler managed to score on an error to put the Rams on the board. Jonathan Swank followed that up with a two-run RBI double to score Angaiak and Miles Fowler before Bast’s RBI single scored Swank. The Rams weren’t done as Joshua Swank stepped up next to deliver and RBI line drive single that scored Bast. The first inning score reached 6-0 when Brighton Higbee’s RBI ground out scored Joshua Swank.
That was just the top of the first, however, and Homer knows how to score runs too. They put four on the board in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to two and show they wouldn’t be discouraged.
Monroe was just getting started, though. After Angaiak hit a lead-off double, Fowler collected a double of his own, one that scored Angaiak. It was raining doubles at Wasilla at that point as Jonathan Swank stepped up to bat and hit an RBI double that scored Fowler. Later in the inning, Joshua Swank grounded into a fielder’s choice that managed to score Jonathan Swank. Homer added another run in the bottom of the second to make the difference a Dolly Parton song at 9-5.
After a quick top of the third, Homer lived up to their name as they led the bottom third off with an over the fence home run to cut the deficit to three. Homer added another run on a fielder’s choice after that to cut the deficit to just two.
In the bottom of the fourth, it all came apart as Homer put a whopping eight runs on the board to take a 15-9 lead.
Monroe refused to roll over, though. Conwell hit a ground ball in the top of the fifth and reached on an error to score Sadler and cut the deficit to five. Fowler later collected an RBI single to score Conwell and make it 15-11 before Angaiak managed to score on an error to get it to 15-12. The Rams just kept scoring as Fowler scored on an error before Jonathan Swank stole home to put the Rams within just one run of Homer.
In the top of the sixth, the Rams showed why they were one of the top teams in DII baseball this year. First, Jack Mavencamp scored on a Wild Pitch to tie the game up at 15-15 before Angaiak’s RBI triple scored Conwell and returned the lead to Monroe. Two at-bats later, Angaiak scored on a wild pitch before Jonathan Swank also scored. Fowler later stole home and just like that, after the Rams seemed collapse, they had a 19-15 lead with an inning and a half to go.
Homer managed to add another run and pull within three, but Monroe refused to let their hard work be in vain as they held on for the win.
Jonathan Swank was great in relief on the mound. He pitched 3.1 innings, gave up four hits and two earned runs, walked two, and struck out five. Offensively, Sadler (2-for-4, two runs), Angaiak (2-for-4, two runs, one RBI), Fowler (2-for-3, four runs, two RBI’s), and Jonathan Swank (2-for-3, four runs, three RBI’s) led the way. Conwell (two runs), Bast (2-for-2, one run, one RBI), and McCullough (one walk) also contributed in the last games of their careers.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at twitter.com/FDNMSports.