OXFORD — The Choccolocco Monsters fell 14-5 Saturday night in Game 2 of their home series against the Atlanta Crackers. The Monsters, who hit well in both games, added 14 hits Saturday after 10 hits in Game 1 on Friday. The offensive effort was not enough in either game. Through their first 10 games of the season, the Monsters have compiled a 3-7 record.
“What we talked about was we didn’t take advantage of opportunities early,” Monsters head coach Steve Gillispie said. “We had runners on second and third with nobody out. We had a chance to get a guy in and move them up. Just playing situational baseball at a higher level will help us because we didn’t play the game the right way tonight. When you don’t play the game the right way, it’s designed to beat you.”
Atlanta had a strong opening inning as it scored three runs to take an early 3-0 lead. With the bases loaded, Jamarie Brooks walked to bring home the first run of the game for the Crackers. Kendell Wade then singled into left field scoring an additional two runs.
In the top of the second inning, the Crackers loaded the bases again. Jared White hit an infield single scoring Atlanta’s fourth run of the game.
The Monsters got on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Nate Shipley got things going for Choccolocco with a single to center field with two outs. Arty Leger followed Shipley with a single of his own to add an extra base runner. Jackson Sweatt singled to left to score Shipley from second, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 4-1.
The Crackers once again loaded the bases in the top of the fourth inning and eventually scored a run to extend their lead to 5-1. Wyatt Castoe hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Shane Nelson, who led off the inning with a walk.
Choccolocco again responded in the bottom half of the inning to cut into Atlanta’s lead. Back-to-back errors from the Crackers infielders put runners on second and third for the Monsters. Leger then singled to center to drive home two runs. After four innings of play, the Crackers led the Monsters 5-3.
The two-run lead did not hold as the Crackers added another run on a leadoff solo home run by Colson Lawrence. This home run was the second of the series for Lawrence, who also homered Friday night.
The Monsters kept battling as they added two more runs to cut the Crackers’ lead to one, 6-5. Brennan McCullough, the former Oxford Yellow Jacket, led off the bottom of the eighth with a single into left to get the offense started. Dominic Scavone singled to right to put runners on the corners. Shipley singled to right to score McCullough from third. Leger scored Scavone on a groundout to second to get within one run of the Crackers.
Ryan Suppa, the Crackers star closer, entered the game midway through the eighth inning to get out of the jam. Suppa had not given up any hits in nine appearances prior to facing the Monsters. He did not give up anything else during his time on the mound against the Monsters.
The top of the ninth was not kind to the Monsters as the Crackers scored eight runs in the inning. The bases were loaded once again for Atlanta when Brooks was hit by a pitch to get the scoring going. Wade singled to center to score another two runs for Atlanta to increase the lead to 9-5. Shane Newsome hit a grounder to third, but an error on the throw to first led to another run. Charlie Tull added the 11th run of the game for Atlanta with a single to right.
Scott Campbell highlighted the huge inning for the Crackers with a triple into left-center field which scored two runs. Jacob Balsey then singled to left to score the 14th run of the game for Atlanta. The Crackers finished the game with 12.
“We walked two guys, we hit a guy, and we made an error,” Gillispie said about the ninth. “We fell behind in counts and had to throw back toward the middle of the plate which is obviously an advantage to the hitter. Once it starts snowballing, it changes the momentum of the game and you could see it in the way their at-bats developed over the course of the inning. They did a nice job.”