by Andrew Garda

Montclair’s High School baseball team had a rough 6-4 loss to Bloomfield on April 19 but with two wins in a row following that, the team is back on track.

After the tough home loss to the Bengals on a frigid Wednesday afternoon, the Mounties beat Madison 8-5 before routing Clifton 11-5 on the road.

During the loss to Bloomfield, the two teams went back and forth throughout the game, with three lead changes before Bloomfield broke things open in the seventh inning with three runs.

MHS did what it could to move base-runners along against Bloomfield — they had five stolen bases total — but struggled to get hits, ending the game with just two. They also reached base by way of six walks and two batters hit by pitch.

It wasn’t enough against Bloomfield.

Starting pitcher Conor McGrath was a little shaky early, but settled down, completing five innings while allowing three runs (only two earned) on six hits with four walks.

Coach Ron Gavazzi liked what he saw from his starter overall, despite the rough first inning.

“Not sure if cold played into it, but he had a hard time with the secondary pitches,” Gavazzi said when asked about McGrath’s control.

“He battled and he pitched through mistakes we made defensively. And he put us in position to win the game. That’s all you can ask for your starter and if he can do that and doesn’t have his best stuff? You’re in good shape.”

McGrath was relieved by Makhi Booker, who downed his first three batters to get the Mounties out of the top half of the sixth with the game tied.

The bottom of the sixth started with Dylan Wright’s first hit of the day, and a short time later Matt McGoey scored his second run of the day. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, the Mounties had a 4-3 lead and their ace on the mound.

Bloomfield wasn’t intimidated, though, and Booker started off by hitting Robert Reboa. Jamir Ramos then sent Reboa to second with a base hit with Booker walking Craig Dittrich to load the bases.

Booker struck out Kyle Tice but walked in a run after a hard battle with Joe Giliberti, and then gave up a two-run double to Edward Abplanalp.

By the time the Mounties got out of the inning, they were down 6-4.

Even with the heart of their order up in the form of Dylan Scarfo, Kyle Miller and John Lewis, Montclair went quietly in the seventh.

Despite that disappointing outcome, the Mounties kept their heads up and moved to the next game. Gavazzi said it was a testament to the mentality the kids come to the field with.

“This team or any team we have had here understands it’s a seven-inning game,” he said after the Bloomfield loss. “They know you play to the last out. Up or down, you compete as hard as you can the whole time. Shows you that they’re in it to the end.”

Playing hard to the end, even in a tough loss, allows you to build momentum for your next game.

For the Mounties the result was a flurry of hitting. Over the next two games, McGrath went 4-for-6 at the plate with four RBIs and three runs scored. Miller, who was blanked by Bloomfield, went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. McGoey went 3-of-4 with two RBIs and one run scored against Madison, and Dante DePasquale and Danny Banks each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored against Clifton. Both also drove in a pair of runs, while Banks hit a triple as well.