By Tom Price Jr.
The Exeter Monarchs (7-1, 10-8) had little to prove Friday, when they hosted the Lindsay Cardinals baseball team (11, 11).
They already held a two-game advantage in the East Sequoia League, they were riding a four-game ESL win streak, but there was one piece of business they had yet to take care of … beat Lindsay.
The Cardinals outplayed Exeter in a 4-2 win on March 30, beating Exeter pitcher Beau Whitlock and handing the Monarchs their only ESL loss of the season.
Whitlock was again on the mound Friday, this time he blanked the Caridnals for six innings and led the Monarchs to a 9-1 rout of Lindsay.
Whitlock gave up six hits, surrendered just one run and struck out there in the game. Whitlock showed the same command in the first meeting between the two teams but had his defense struggle behind him, committing four errors. This time he said he had confidence in his whole team.
"I felt real comfortable out there and I knew the defense would pick me up," Whitlock said. "At the time they were two games back of us and we needed this win."
Already leading 2-0, Exeter exploded for seven runs in the third inning to pull away. Morgan Munger reached base on an error by Lindsay third baseman Javier Ibarra with one out to start the rally. Whitlock followed with a single that scored Munger and moved to second after Barry Lowry was hit by a pitch. A passed ball allowed both runners to move into scoring position and first baseman Luis Ibarra cashed them in one out later.
With two outs, the Monarchs continued the onslaught getting consecutive hits from Matt Silva, Eddie Chavez and Paul Gonzales.
Two Lindsay errors extended the inning and helped put the game out of reach, a sign Lindsay catcher Tomas Cervantes found very disturbing.
"We are a team that is pretty much known for our defense," Cervantes said. "And today it was pretty much worthless."
The Cardinals, who have battled an inept offense all season long gathered six hits but only managed to bring one runner across the plate. Todd Collier scored Bernardo Lemus from second base with a two-out single in the sixth inning.
"It's really tough for me to watch us come out and lag it like we did today," Collier said. "We need to come out swinging the stick and this was a major wake up call."
With the win Exeter may have sent out a wake up call to the rest of the league. As of press time, Exeter was three games ahead of Lindsay and Dinuba who are tied for second place.
"We are just playing good all around," Balderas said. "Everybody is equal on this team and everybody contributes."
For Lindsay, a playoff birth could be on the line. After winning six games between March 26 and April 5, they have lost three of their last five and have scored a total of three runs in those loses.
"We will come back, we just need to start getting the ball on the good part of the bat," Cervantes said. "Right now we just aren't playing like ourselves."