LOUISVILLE — James Thompson took over a young Monarch Post 111 American Legion baseball squad last year, and the Coyotes took their lumps as a B-level team playing a Legion A schedule.
This year, the Coyotes again challenged themselves to take another leap — going to the A Elite level, where they have had a nice run entering the state tournament that started on Wednesday.
Growing pains certainly come with the territory, and Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Mountain Rangers in 10 innings was one such instance that the team hopes to learn from.
Thompson's team battled back to 4-0 down to take a 5-4 lead in the 10th, but they couldn't hold on as Mountain Range scratched and clawed to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning. A single through the hole tied the game back up at 5-5 and the Rangers were able to get a fly ball to right field deep enough to score the winning run and advance in the double-elimination tournament.
"The thing we talked about after the game is that we just didn't make too many adjustments at the plate until later on, and we allowed their starting pitcher to cruise through six," Thompson said after watching his team finish with 12 hits overall. "We had a big spot in the third that we could have got some runs if we would have executed, but we did settle in and were able to tie it up.
"To be able to battle back was outstanding, and that's kind of been us all summer. The game's not over until it's over, and first pitch to last pitch we play to win."
The Coyotes (19-18 overall) have quite a few players from the spring varsity season, but as is the case with most summers, figuring out pitching for the oncoming spring is a key element.
Davis Elliott put forth a gritty effort for Monarch on Wednesday, perhaps extending his opportunities for the future. He gave up two first-inning runs but proceeded to keep the Coyotes in it, working eight innings with just one walk allowed and two strikeouts.
"He pitched his butt off and gave us exactly what we were looking for. He just scattered hits and didn't give guys free bases," Thompson said. "He settled in and pitched very well."
After scoring two runs in the seventh, the Coyotes tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the ninth on a Matt Hoban two-run single. With Ian MacDonald on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, Hoban made a great play at first base to keep Mountain Range from winning the game then and there.
Monarch took a 5-4 lead on Luke Secunda's run scoring single that brought Connor Flynn home.
MacDonald struck out one in the tenth when the entire field was drawn in, but an error in the inning also helped Mountain Range get the victory.
The Coyotes will try and keep their season alive Thursday at noon at MoHi. Any games thereafter will be played at Fairview, the tournament host.
American Legion A Elite State Tournament
Mountain Rangers 6, Monarch Post 111 5
At Monarch HS
Monarch000 000 202 1 — 5 12 2
Mountain Range200 110 000 2 — 6 15 1
L — MacDonald.
Monarch hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Morris 5-0-2-0, Trofino 4-0-1-0, Flynn 5-1-1-0, Cole 5-1-1-0, Secunda 5-2-3-1, Hartojo 2-1-1-1, Coatney 3-1-2-1, Hoban 4-0-1-2, Fish 3-0-0-0. 2B — Flynn, Secunda, Coatney.
Monarch pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Elliott 8-11-4-4-1-2, MacDonald 1.1-4-2-1-1-2.