Monticello advances, will face Deaf Smith Co. at 11 a.m. Saturday

J.P. Aiken struck out nine over four shutout innings and hit a homerun to lead Monticello past Denham Springs, La., 8-2 Friday afternoon at the 12-year old Cal Ripken southwest regional tournament.

The loss made Denham Springs the first team eliminated from the tournament.

The win advanced Monticello to meet Deaf Smith County, Texas, at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Monticello jumped on top in the first inning as Aiken scored on an error after he singled earlier in the inning and moved to third base on Hunter Hayes’ infield hit.

Monticello made two outs on the base paths in the first two innings, one of which was at the plate with one out in the first. The other was the last out of the second inning on a stolen base attempt with a runner at third base.

Aiken was effectively wild on the mound early in the game. He hit a batter and allowed all three runners that reached base in the first three innings to move into scoring position, but he struck out eight in that span to stave off any scoring threat. The fourth inning, Aiken’s last, was the only inning that he retired Louisiana in order.

A five-run third inning made up for the outs Monticello made on the bases in the first two innings.

The home team capitalized on two Louisiana errors to get its first two runs in the third after Dylan Carter was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Aiken reached on an error and followed Carter home when Louisiana pitcher Zachary Kimball overthrew his catcher on a ground ball hit by Hayes.

Peyton Merrell drew a one-out walk and Blake Holstead followed with a base knock to load the bases for Ryan Tassin. Tassin cleared the bases with a double to the right centerfield gap that gave Monticello a 6-0 advantage.

Aiken lined a shot over the center field fence after getting behind 0-2 in the count to put Monticello up 7-0 in the fourth inning. Hayes followed the homerun with a double and later scored when Kimball, who was replaced on the mound by Jeremy Starns, overthrew Starns from behind the plate after a pitch. The run gave Monticello an 8-0 lead.

Denham Springs scratched out two runs in the fifth as Grant Shiltz led off the inning with a single to left field off Curtis, who took over for Aiken on the mound. Shiltz got to second base when the ball got by Jeffers in left field, and later scored on a ground ball hit by Collin Guitreau that Aiken fielded cleanly but threw past Tassin at first base. Guitreau moved to second on the play then scored on a fielder’s choice to cut Monticello’s lead to 8-2.

Denham Springs got two runners on in the sixth inning, but Curtis was able to close out the victory.

<p>Blake Holstead slides into home in Monticello's 8-2 win over Louisiana Friday.</p>


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