LOUISVILLE -- Whatever the opposite of a no-doubter is, Cole Maltese hit one of those.
In the first inning of Monarch's 10-2 win against Boulder on Thursday, the Coyotes shortstop drove a ball to the right-center field gap and it disappeared. The field umpire signaled a home run.
Maltese circled the bases and went to the dugout while Boulder outfielders vehemently insisted the ball had gone through a gap beneath the fence. They were correct, so Maltese went back to second base.
"I didn't know because I really didn't even look at it," Maltese said. "I just looked at the umpire and he said it was a home run, so I just kept jogging."
No matter. Maltese scored on the first of two home runs by Coyotes second baseman Ryan Norton. Then, in his next at-bat, he got his own homer on a blast (an actual no-doubter) to dead center field.
That helped vault Monarch (11-5, 5-3) to a 6-1 lead in the third inning, and the Coyotes cruised to a key Front Range League win against the struggling Panthers (5-10-1, 1-7).
"The idea was to jump on them early, put the pressure on them and just swing the sticks today," Maltese said.
Monarch did plenty of that in an 11-hit attack, but the Coyotes also received a pitching performance that was as gutsy as it was proficient. Alex Blazon had thrown 48 pitches over three innings on Tuesday, but went back to the mound when projected starter Gerrit Elzinga hadn't healed from an injury.
Blazon responded with six nearly spotless innings, in which he allowed one unearned run and only four hits while striking out four.
"I had a rough outing on Tuesday and just went to practice and tried to correct it," said Blazon, who added a three-run triple. "It was awesome to have that run support from my team."
Monarch remained firmly in the mix for one of the league's six playoff spots and retained an outside opportunity at a league title. The Coyotes have a huge game Saturday at second-place Greeley West.
"We're excited," first-year coach Scott Weiss said. "We're still playing good baseball, and the big thing is that we control our own destiny. If we close out strong, we'll be in the playoffs."
For Boulder, which got a 2-for-2 performance from third baseman Tommy Baumgartner, it was more of the same.
"We've got to find a way to not bury ourselves," Panthers coach Steve Disbrow said. "That's been the problem the past few weeks."
Still youthful, Disbrow is hoping his squad will finish the season by translating some of its true talents to the diamond. The Panthers often look spectacular at practice.
"For whatever reason, we're not transferring that to live at-bats and live plays in the field," Disbrow said.
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Monarch 10, Boulder 2
At Monarch H.S.
Boulder (5-10-1, 1-7) 001 000 1 -- 2 6 1
Monarch (11-5, 5-3) 303 301 X -- 10 11 3
W -- Blazon. L -- Blessing.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Guegon 4-1-1-0, Marcotte 3-0-0-0, Platt 1-0-1-0, L. Bukowski 2-0-0-0, Flores 1-0-0-0, N. Bukowski 3-0-1-0, Denton 3-0-0-0, Baumgartner 2-1-2-0, Lanzano 2-0-1-0, Jones 1-0-0-0, Garcia 3-0-0-1. Totals 27-2-6-1. 2B -- Platt. SB -- Baumgartner.
Monarch hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Przedpelski 2-3-2-0, Manders 4-1-1-0, Maltese 4-2-2-2, Soole 1-2-0-1, Norton 3-2-2-3, Blazon 4-0-1-3, Clary 3-0-1-0, Stork 1-0-0-1, Witte 2-0-2-0, Wood 2-0-0-0, Clarksie 1-0-0-0. Totals 27-10-11-10. 2B -- Maltese. 3B -- Blazon. HR -- Norton 2 (one on in first, solo in sixth), Maltese (one on in third).
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Blessing 2.1-3-6-6-5-2, Fiegel 1-2-3-3-2-0, Rodgers 0.2-1-0-0-0-1, Lanzano 2-5-1-1-0-0.
Monarch pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Blazon 6-4-1-0-3-4, Beswick 1-2-1-1-0-1.