A three-run second inning was the difference as Monticello pulled gradually pulled away from LeRoy Monday night in the season opener for both teams in non-conference high school boy's baseball from Rantoul Monday.
Wet conditions at Monticello High School caused the game to be moved to the new Rantoul Family Sports Complex where the two squads played on an all artificial turf field and were the first extended time playing outside for each side.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning, Luke Teschke and Eli Craft drew back-to-back one out walks and Biniam Lienhart reached on an infield single to load the bases. Dawlton Chupp hit a grounder to shortstop that looked like it was going to be an inning-ending double play but Ian Johnson at first base could not handle the low relay throw from Tanner Holoch at shortstop.
Teschke scored easily from third but Craft hustled all the way from second base with head-first slide to tie the game at 3. Chupp moved up to second on the throw to the plate.
Jacob Trusner then ripped a single past shortstop to score Chupp and that gave Monticello the lead for good.
Lienhart would walk in a run in the third inning and Monticello took advantage of eight walks and four hit batsmen to pull away.
Garrett Hudson went yard with a solo home run to start the second inning for the Panthers. That tied the score at 2. Ninth-hitter Noah Company laced a double to left-center field in the second to put LeRoy on top 2-1.
Holoch blasted a solo home run with one out in the seventh inning and a late rally by the Panthers fell short as they brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning but Johnson grounded out to second to end the game against Spencer Mitze.
Trusner finished 2-for-3 for Monticello while Lienhart went 1-for-2 with an RBI and stolen base. Chupp, Jack Buckalew, and Mitze finished 1-for-3 for the Sages.
Chupp recorded the only extra-base hit for Monticello Monday.
Mitze went 2 2/3 innings in relief Monday allowing two runs, six hits and struck out three to zero walks. Jacob Long threw two scoreless innings of relief allowing three hits and struck out two.
Hudson and Blake Roundtree finished 2-for-4 for LeRoy.
The Panthers start the season 0-1 while Monticello moves to 1-0.
The Sages are at Villa Grove on Wednesday.