Greencastle pitcher Ryan Battin was at his best with runners on base Wednesday, leaving nine Monrovia runners stranded in a 1-0 victory in a West Central Conference game on the Tiger Cubs' field.
It was the first game of a doubleheader. Greencastle won the second game 16-10.
The hard-throwing senior left-hander allowed only three hits, but combined with five walks and one Greencastle error, the Bulldogs had plenty of opportunities to score with one key hit. They never got it.
Monrovia (6-10, 3-3 WCC) had runners on second and third with one out in the first and sixth innings and runners on first and second with two outs in the third and seventh innings.
Battin, relying on his fastball and curve with an occasional change-up, used one of his eight strikeouts to close out the first and induced the Bulldogs into ground ball outs to get out of the third, sixth and seventh. With one exception, they were routine plays made by the Tiger Cubs (6-6, 4-2).
"Ryan pitched good enough to win and that's all that matters," Greencastle coach Troy Remsburg said. "He has gotten in those jams all year. He loves the pressure, it doesn't bother him."
The Tiger Cubs had only two hits, both singles, off Monrovia's Jeremy Gray, but they came back-to-back from Battin and Dylan Linton to start the fourth inning. Andy Bell followed with a grounder that went for a force play at second, but when the relay to try for a double play was thrown over the first baseman's head, Battin scored.
Greencastle made the most out of its only scoring opportunity. Gray put the Tiger Cubs down in order in the other five innings. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter. Gray faced only 19 batters in six innings. Monrovia turned a double play to get out of the fourth.
Greencastle second baseman Holden King had the game's finest defensive play to keep Monrovia from scoring in the sixth.
With runners at second and third, Evan Burgess' slowly hit grounder toward the right-field side of second base arrived just as Brady Zier was arriving. King kept his composure, gloving the ball and tagging the sliding Zier for the out in a bang-bang play.
Sophomore King had been elevated into the starting lineup for "three or four" games when Remsburg moved Ryan Pettit to third base.
"He's (King) done a very good job," Remsburg said.
Greencastle's two-base error with two outs in the seventh put Gray on second. Benefiel had two hard-hit singles and a walk and he's batting .550 with four home runs. Remsburg ordered him to be walked intentionally.
"Why give him a shot? Remsburg said. "He's their hitter. I definitely was not going to give him a chance to hit."
Monrovia cleanup hitter Davis Noel had a screeching line drive down the left field line go foul by a foot before Battin got him to hit a grounder to third baseman Pettit, who stepped on the bag to force Gray and end the game.
Monrovia 000 000 0--0 3 1
Greencastle 000 100 x--1 2 1
Gray and Davis, Burgess (3), Davis (4); Battin and Bell.
WP-- Battin (7 IP, 0 runs, 3 hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts).
LP: Gray (6 IP, 1 run, 0 earned run, 7 strikeouts, 0 walks.)
1B -- Monrovia--Benefiel 2, Cooper; Greencastle--Battin, Linton.