MONSTERS RALLY, SCORE FOUR IN THE NINTH TO DOWN DEFENDING CHAMPS
ALPHARETTA, Ga – Trailing by two entering the top of the ninth inning, the Monsters plated four runs on three hits and held on to beat the defending Sun Belt League Champions, Alpharetta Aviators, 8-6. Choccolocco certainly has a flair for the dramatic in their inaugural season, as all three wins for the Monsters have been in comeback fashion.
It was not until the top of the fourth inning and facing a four-run deficit that the Monsters (3-4) would tally their first hit, that being a line drive single to center field from Wyatt Fooks to lead-off the inning. Then, following a fielder's choice, left-handed hitting shortstop JJ Rapp would single in Oxford native Brennan McCullough, marking Rapp’s first RBI in a Choccolocco uniform.
After a scoreless frame in the field, the Monsters would eliminate the 4-1 lead for Alpharetta (2-7) in the fifth. For the second consecutive inning, a lead-off single would jump start the offense, this time off the bat of Nate Lloyd. Walks to Jackson Sweatt and Brant Deerman would load the bases with nobody out for the speedy infielder Josh Cooper. Back-to-back infield singles from Cooper and Brandon Prince working in tandem with heads-up baserunning would plate three runs in the inning and knot the game up.
Alpharetta would respond, scratching across a run in the fifth and sixth innings to make the score 6-4 as nighttime fell upon Legion Field. The Aviators motioned for their closer in the ninth who issued free passes to the first two Monsters batters, Dawson Winningham and Nate Lloyd. Then, in quite possibly the biggest at-bat of the night, pinch hitter William Kelley smoked a double over the head of the center fielder to score both Winningham and Lloyd. A single to left field from the only multi-hit performer of the night, Josh Cooper, would bring home the potential game-winning run. Cooper picked up RBI’s four and five on the 2022 campaign, good enough for the team high through seven games.
On the mound, the Monsters turned to South Alabama right-hander, Brock Hill, for the start. Hill worked two scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen in the third. Making his Choccolocco debut was right-handed hurler Weston Kirk. Kirk was able to get the Monsters through the middle innings, throwing 2.2 innings while giving up just two earned runs and striking out three. Harris Burns (2-0) was the pitcher of record for the Monsters after the Wallace Community College right hander delivered two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth. Manager Steve Gillispie then leaned on the trusty bullpen arm of Daniel Swatek to record the save, his second of the year.
The Monsters will be back in action Wednesday night in Alpharetta. Game two of the midweek series against the Aviators will commence at 7:05 p.m. EDT (6:05 p.m. CDT).