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Baseball: Reavis ace Montalto stifles Evergreen Park again

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By Steve Millar 
Correspondent

When Reavis junior Nathan Montalto pitched against Evergreen Park on March 29, he cruised through five innings, striking out eight and allowing just one hit in a 10-0 win for the Rams.

So, when Montalto ended up facing the Mustangs a second time, he saw no need to change anything.

“Mentally, it was the same thing for me,” Montalto said. “I just knew I was going to go out there and do what I do. My arm was feeling good. It went great.”

Indeed, it did.

Montalto threw a complete game three-hitter, allowing just two unearned runs as the Rams completed the season sweep of host Evergreen Park with a 6-2 win in a South Suburban Red game on April 15.

Montalto struck out six and did not issue a walk to lead the Rams (9-4-1, 5-0).

“Everything was working,” he said. “My fastball, I was spotting it perfectly. My curveball was breaking and my slider, same thing.”

The Rams and Mustangs (6-9, 1-6) were originally scheduled to play April 13, but rain caused the game to be postponed two days and resulted in Montalto being back on the mound.

“Sometimes it’s a little easier to hit off a guy a second time around,” Reavis coach Don Erickson said. “(Montalto) threw against them last time and he wasn’t scheduled to pitch against them this time, but it’s just the way it worked out with the rainout.

“He was able to stifle them for 12 innings now. That’s good stuff.”

Erickson said Montalto started the season as Reavis’ ace but he and Anthony Tanas have become “1A and 1A.”

Montalto takes that as a challenge.

“I like pressure,” Montalto said. “I want to be that top guy. Anthony is great pitcher, too, and if he takes that spot from me, good for him — but I want it. It’s great competition.”

Down 3-0, Evergreen Park took advantage of a two-out error and mounted a rally in the fifth inning.

After Rowan Smyth reached on the error, Caleb Keyser singled and Sean Higgins with hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Sophomore Jack Hughes then came through with a two-run base hit.

Montalto was able to get out of the jam with the lead intact and Hughes’ hit was the final one of the day for the Mustangs.

“Offensively, our bats are not coming around the way we want them to,” Evergreen Park coach Mark Smyth said. “Jack came through with a big hit and got us rolling and we got close, but those are few and far between right now. The boys are battling, though.”

Tanas broke the game open with his first high school home run in the top of the sixth, a three-run blast that sailed well beyond the left field fence to make it 6-2.

“I was walking with the bat after I hit it,” Tanas said. “I was like, ‘Holy cow, my first home run.’ It was like a big, ‘Wow’ to me. My dad got it on film. It was perfect. Hopefully I can get more.”

Tanas was also the hero in Thursday’s wild 13-12 win over Lemont, coming through with the game-winning two-run single with outs in the sixth in a game that was called after six due to darkness.

It was a big week for the Rams, who went 4-0 including Erickson’s 500th career win, a 4-0 victory over Argo on Monday.

Evergreen Park, meanwhile, had a 1-3 week that was highlighted by an 18-0 romp over Hillcrest on Thursday. Keyser and Tyler Kummer each had three RBIs in that one.

While the Mustangs are searching for offensive consistency, they got a solid outing on the mound Friday from Crispin Soto, who went six innings and allowed six runs, the big blow coming on the Tanas homer.

“Crispin pitched a great game,” Mark Smyth said. “That was super encouraging. It was a good outing. He just let up that home run. The previous at-bat against that guy, he was able to get him out in front with changeups so we tried to stick with that and he just hung one, left it up and the guy got it up in the air.

“That was it.”

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