Regardless of whether or not Shelton\u2019s American Legion team qualifies for the U19 state playoffs, the season \u2014 in some ways \u2014 can be deemed a success. \u00a0 Shelton went into its Wednesday, July 12, regular-season finale against Oakville clinging to a half-game lead over Oxford (which went into the middle of the week with two games to play) and holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot among Zone V competitors. \u00a0 \u201cI\u2019m proud of them that we made it this far,\u201d said Shelton coach Tom Murphy, alluding to the fact last summer\u2019s squad didn\u2019t make it through the summer because of having to forfeit games due to a shortage of committed players. \u00a0 Murphy credits role players Callum Zak, Trent Dias and Collin Mengold for being reliable and stepping in to contribute when and where needed to sacrifice bunt or fill in defensively, for example. \u00a0 \u201cThey\u2019ve done everything we\u2019ve asked them to do. We would not have been able to finish the season without kids like them,\u201d Murphy said. \u201cThey\u2019ve had their key moments in games.\u201d \u00a0 Shelton fell 3-2 to visiting Monroe, the second-place team in Zone V,\u00a0on Tuesday\u00a0night, and dropped to 11-12 overall. Oakville, the Zone V leader, has just one loss, meaning Shelton potentially stands to have its work cut out to qualify unless Oxford drops one of its final two contests. \u00a0 Shelton has had several players step in and toe the rubber on the pitcher\u2019s mound. In fact, 10 team members have tossed 11 or 12 innings each, Murphy said. \u00a0 Carl Kopf entered the game against Masuk in the second inning and gave his team six solid innings, allowing only one run in relief of Ryan Murphy. \u00a0 Because Monroe is one of the top hitting teams in all of Legion play, coach Murphy opted to use Ryan Murphy since the hurler throws a variety of off-speed pitches. \u00a0 \u201cGood hitting teams don\u2019t like to see junk pitchers like that,\u201d Murphy said. \u00a0 But Monroe took advantage of a trio of walks, a hit batter, and a base hit to scratch out a pair of opening-frame runs. It marked the first time in four outings this summer that Ryan Murphy allowed an earned run. \u00a0 Kopf mostly silenced Monroe\u2019s bats the rest of the way. \u00a0 \u201cHe did a great job,\u201d Murphy said. \u201cOur pitching\u2019s been great.\u201d \u00a0 Shelton\u2019s hurlers have kept the team in games, and Kopf\u2019s effort gave Shelton a chance against Monroe. \u00a0 \u201cWe put a couple of innings together where we got some runs across. Their pitcher was gutting. His arm was hurting him and he was telling us. We just ran out of gas at the end there,\u201d Murphy said. \u00a0 Monroe\u2019s Luke Shaffer managed to toss a complete game and worked around some trouble, including in the seventh when Shelton put two on with one out. \u00a0 David Wells was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Monroe opted to intentionally walk Craig McNamara, and thwarted the threat with a game-ending double play. \u00a0 Down 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Shelton cut the deficit in half when Wells led off with a single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on McNamara\u2019s crisp single to center field. \u00a0 Monroe reclaimed its two-run edge in the top of the fifth on an RBI single off the bat of Zach Boyle, set up by an error and a walk. \u00a0 Shelton inched closer in the bottom of the fifth. Wells, the team\u2019s leadoff hitter, again got things started with a single. A hit and run single by Ryan Murphy put runners on the corners, and Matt Hunyadi hit a sacrifice fly to right, making it 3-2. \u00a0 Ryan Murphy, who moved behind the plate, threw out a would-be base stealer in the seventh.