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BASEBALL: Monarchs offense pulls off seventh inning win

Exeter’s Ruben Ruiz hits a double to bat in winning run in seventh inning against Hanford West

EXETER – The Monarchs honored former Exeter coach Chris Hughes with a comeback 10-9 win in the seventh inning.

The Exeter Monarchs came back to beat the Hanford West Huskies 10-9 in the second game of their series on April 19. The Huskies pulled ahead early, but the Monarchs offense came back to tie the game. After holding Hanford West to zero runs in the top of the seventh, Ruben Ruiz got his fourth hit of the night, a double, that sent Miles Munger home to score the run to win. It was an emotional night for the Monarchs as they honored Chris Hughes, father of Carson Hughes and former Exeter coach after he passed away on April 11.

“It wasn’t a clean game defensively,” Exeter head coach Kevin Kirkman said. “But I know they wanted it tonight.”

When the Monarchs stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning, it was tied 9-9. Closing pitcher Logan Montano had successfully secured three outs with no runs in the top, but the work began on offense. The Monarchs were at the bottom of their batting order. Munger got on base and the dugout held their breath, yelling for him to be careful to not let the Huskies pitcher throw him out when he stepped off first.

The next batter struck out and the Huskies decided to intentionally walk Gunnar Lentz, the lead off batter for the Monarchs, in hopes of a double play. Zack Williams hit a pop up to right field and was out, but Munger and Lentz progressed to third and second base. Then Ruiz stepped up to the plate. He’d been consistent at the plate all night. He’d already hit a double in the third and a triple in the fifth and batted in four runs. Ruiz hit another double to send Munger sprinting for home plate. By the time he touched it, the Monarchs had stormed the field to swarm Ruiz as they celebrated.

“Ruiz has the highest average, hitting over .400,” Kirkman said. “Obviously he’s got to be the one in that spot for sure.”

After attending the funeral for Chris in the morning, the Monarchs honored the former coach with a moment of silence before the game began. Then, Carson brought a ball signed by the team to his mom. Chris had coached baseball and football from the youth level and eventually the high school level. Most of the current members of the team grew up being coached by him and they wanted to get a win.

Carson also played an impressive game. He scored the fifth run for the Monarchs that tied the game in the fifth inning, then hit a double and batted in two runs to tie the game again in the sixth inning. Lentz, the Monarchs’ leadoff batter, also played an important role. Simply due to poor luck, Lentz was hit by two pitches, but was awarded the intentional walk in the seventh inning. He gets hit by pitches so often, he has the highest on base percentage of the team.

The Monarchs defeated the Huskies 16-2 on April 15 and will face them again on April 21. They’ll hope to get another win for a sweep.

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