By Damian Marquez


exeter – Tyler Rumbaugh wasn’t at his best.

That’s a scary thought when you look at Rumbaugh’s final stat line.

The senior pitcher tossed a complete-game shutout and gave up just two hits while striking out eight.

Rumbaugh’s performance was tough and gritty, considering he sprained his ankle the day before.

And it was enough to get the No. 4-seeded Monarchs into the Central Section

Division IV semifinals after a 3-0 win over No. 6 Taft on May 19.

“He sprained his ankle and he worked on it all day and night,” Exeter Coach

Kevin Kirkman said. “He wasn’t at his best, but he battled every inning. He went all seven and threw a shutout against a good Taft team.”

Rumbaugh was clearly not at his best, allowing five walks.

But he was still good enough to have a no-hitter brewing for 6 2/3 innings. Taft finally broke through with two hits in the top of the seventh inning.

“I had to do a lot to get the swelling down,” Rumbaugh said. “I had the trainer evaluate me and she said I was fine. At first, I was a little uncomfortable because I’m not used to having anything on my ankle, but once I got settled in, I started to feel like my normal self and was able to get the win.”

As for the potential no-hitter, Rumbaugh had no idea.

“I didn’t even notice,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about a no-hitter at that point. I was just worried about getting a win and advancing and keeping our playoffs alive.”

Rumbaugh got all the run support he would need in the second inning thanks to Alex Lagrutta.

Exeter’s No. 8 and No. 9 hitters drew walks with two outs to set up Lagrutta, who was hitting lead-off.

And the junior delivered, blasting a two-run triple over the centerfielder’s head. Lagrutta would score the third run of the game on a wild pitch.

“I’m just thinking I have to do my job and come through for my team,” Lagrutta said about being up in that situation. “I was struggling, but I found my groove and I hope to carry it throughout the season.”

Lagrutta is driving the ball right now. In the regular-season finale against Dinuba, he ripped a bases-clearing double to provide the offensive spark the Monarchs needed.

“I’m seeing the ball really good right now,” he said. “It comes and goes, but right now it’s sticking with me.”

The win was the first playoff win for Exeter since winning the Central Section Division V championship in 2014. The Monarchs were the No. 1 seed in Division IV in 2015, but were eliminated in their first game after receiving a first-round bye.

Exeter is hoping its win can lead to a couple more victories in the Division IV playoffs.

“This was big,” Rumbaugh said. “It gives us a big boost. We’re looking to make a deep run.”

Exeter played No. 1 Firebaugh in the Division IV semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The final score of the game was not available at press time.

The winner will advance to the championship game, which will be played Monday at Recreation Park in Visalia.

“We finally started to come together as a team,” Lagrutta said. “As long as we get a few runs, we know we have the pitching to support us.”

In the other semifinal, No. 2 Immanuel played No. 3 Fowler.

Start typing and press Enter to search