Monroe falls to Soldotna in DII quarterfinals

Monroe Catholic's Jase McCullough (at-bat) awaits the pitch at Wasilla High School Thursday morning during the Rams' quarterfinal game against Soldotna. 

After a 1-3 start to the season, the Monroe Rams came alive, didn’t lose again until the regional championship, and made it to the Division II state baseball tournament.

Unfortunately, the opening round of the state tournament was as far as they advanced this season.

Though the Rams took an early lead and were tied for much of the game, Soldotna scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth and eventually defeated Monroe 8-4 Thursday afternoon at Wasilla in the quarterfinals of the Division II state baseball tournament.

The Rams gave one heck of an effort. Shaun Conwell went 2-for-2 with two RBI’s while Aden Sadler went 3-for-4 with three runs. It wasn’t enough to overcome that five-run sixth inning, however.

The Rams got on the board first as Conwell’s RBI single scored Sadler in the top of the first to give Monroe a 1-0 lead. Soldotna responded with the sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1. The Stars added another run on a fly out to take a 2-1 lead.

In the top of the third, Monroe Catholic struck back. Gabe Angaiak’s RBI double to score Sadler tied the game up and Conwell’s RBI single scored Angaiak to put the Rams back in front 3-2. However, Soldotna responded in the bottom of the inning with an inside the park home run to tie the game. Conwell was pulled in the inning after tossing 54 pitches. Jonathan Swank came in from there and ended the inning with a K.

In the bottom of the sixth, however, it all fell apart. The Stars scored five runs in the penultimate inning to take an 8-3 lead. Angaiak’s RBI fly out to score Sadler in the top of the seventh gave the Rams a fourth run, but that was all they could do as they ultimately dropped the game.

Monroe Catholic will now play in the consolation bracket with a game Friday at 1 p.m. They will face the winner of Palmer-Grace Christian, who played Thursday night after press time.

Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at twitter.com/FDNMSports.