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RED BANK -- For eight innings of Wednesday's Shore Conference Class A Central showdown, Red Bank Catholic's lights-out pitching held the Monmouth Regional baseball team without a hit.

Thanks to senior ace Aiden Denton, however, Monmouth also stacked scoreless inning on top of scoreless inning and extended the game long enough that the lights at Count Basie Park turned on as dusk settled.

When the lights turned on, so did Monmouth's previously-slumbering lineup.

Senior Christian Zito broke up a combined no-hitter by Red Bank Catholic with a double in the top of the ninth and senior starting pitching Aiden Denton delivered the game-winning two-run single one batter later to propel the Falcons to a 2-0 win in nine innings over the No. 1 ranked team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10.

Making his second start of the season and on four days of rest, Denton completed seven innings, allowing five hits and a pair of walks and two hit batters while striking out five on 112 pitches. Once forced off the mound after reaching the single-game pitch limit, Denton came through with his bat by plating the only two runs of the game.

"It was a team effort," Denton said. "It was awesome: every guy, top-to-bottom, contributed is one way or another. To have that behind you when you're out there, there is no better feeling."

Red Bank Catholic junior Alex Stanyek and sophomore Declan Leary combined to no-hit Monmouth through eight innings, but Denton matched zeroes with the two RBC right-handers. In the bottom of the seventh, Denton issued a one-out walk to freshman Dylan Passo, who moved into scoring position on a groundout by sophomore Matt Brunner.

At 109 pitches, Denton was eligible to pitch just one more batter and he struck out the leadoff hitter, Stanyek, on three straight fastballs to send the game to the eighth inning.

"Coach (Paul) Crivello said I had one more batter left, so I knew that was going to be it," Denton said. "I went out there and I just let it eat. I figured he was going to be thinking maybe I would give him the offspeed, but I let it eat. I gave it everything I had on those last three pitches."

In the latter part of his start, Denton started to throw his curveball and changeup more frequently, including early in the count. The three straight heaters was a change of pace for which Denton was primed.

"They started getting better swings on my offspeed stuff towards the end and my coach always tell me, 'Trust you fastball,'" Denton said. "I put my faith in him and I put my faith in my fastball and it panned out."

In the top of the ninth, senior Andrew McKinley started the winning rally by reaching on an error and one batter later, senior Christian Zito ripped a ground ball over the third-base bag for a double -- the first hit of the game for the Falcons -- and a second-and-third threat with none out.

Denton worked the count full and smacked a one-hopper that RBC second baseman Andrew Gonzalez deflected as he was sliding to make an attempt to field the ball. The ball bounded into centerfield and both McKinley and Zito sped home with the tiebreaking runs.

"I was just trying to hit something hard the opposite way," Denton said. "We had Andrew at third; he's a fast kid and I figured something like that would be able to get him home and I just got a pitch I could hit."

Senior Zach Lopes nailed down the win with a one-two-three ninth inning.

Red Bank Catholic's best late-game threat came in the bottom of the eighth. Lopes issued a leadoff walk to junior Frank Scrivanic, but bounced back to retire the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters -- Monmouth commit Matt Scrivanic on a strikeout and sophomore Alabama commit Sean Griggs on a ground out to third.

With a runner on second, Monmouth intentionally walked junior catcher Shane Andrus and senior Jack Meyers worked another walk to load the bases with two out. Lopes then got Gonzalez to fly out to Zito in center to strand the bases loaded.

Stanyek and Leary not only kept Monmouth hitless for eight innings -- they were nearly perfect. Stanyek allowed just two baserunners in his five innings and 68 pitches of work and one of them was on an error. Leary, meanwhile, retired the first nine batters he faced while striking out six before the leadoff error in the ninth broke up his run.

Red Bank Catholic stranded 10 runners in nine innings, with its greatest missed opportunity coming in the first inning against Denton. Stanyek led off the game with a single and Scrivanic and Griggs drew a walk and a hit-by-pitch on consecutive plate appearances, giving the Caseys a bases-loaded chance with one out.

Denton made his pitch to Andrus, who bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat, with shortstop Colin Denton and Lopes executing the turn up the middle.

Red Bank Catholic has now lost two straight games, the last of which was a 10-6 stunner on the road at Shore Regional, which lost to RBC, 23-0, on opening day.

Monmouth, meanwhile, is off to a 3-0 start in Class A Central play -- one of two teams, along with Rumson-Fair Haven, to reach 3-0. Ocean is 2-0 and had its scheduled game Wednesday vs. Holmdel postponed.

"It's huge to get off to this start and win a game like this, but it's a long season," Denton said. "We're still looking to take it one game, one practice, one pitch, one inning at a time. As long as we do that and focus on winning each innings, we can win a lot of games."

Box Score

Monmouth 2, Red Bank Catholic 0 (9 Innings)

123456789RHE
Monmouth (3-0, 3-0)000000002220
RBC (1-2, 1-2)000000000052

Pitching

MonmouthIPHRERBBSOPC
Aiden Denton750025112
Zach Lopes (W, 1-0)20003239
Red Bank CatholicIPHRERBBSOPC
Alex Stanyek50001668
Declan Leary (L, 1-1)42210868

Top Hitters

MonmouthGame Stats
Christian Zito1-4, 2B, R
Aiden Denton1-4, 2 RBI
Red Bank CatholicGame Stats
Alex Stanyek1-5, SB
Frank Scrivanic1-2, BB, HBP
Matt Scrivanic1-3, BB
Jack Meyers0-1, 2 BB
Matt Brunner1-4, SB