TOLEDO — Due to an inability to cash in on early opportunities, Montesano’s path to regionals suddenly became more complicated.
Unheralded Woodland minimized the damage from Bulldog threats in the first three innings, then used Cy Whitmire’s baserunning gamble in the sixth to stun previously unbeaten Montesano, 3-2, in the semifinals of the District IV Class IA Baseball Tournament on Tuesday at Toledo.
The Bulldogs opend the tourney with an 11-1 drubbing of Kalama earlier in the day.
Woodland, the only Trico League team to win a first-round game, and Evergreen 1A League fourth seed Tenino will collide for the district championship Saturday at Castle Rock. Both are assured of berths in the following weekend’s regionals.
Montesano (21-1), the state’s top-ranked 1A team, must now beat Castle Rock in a winner-to-regionals, loser-out contest scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday at Castle Rock, to extend its season.
Beavers 3, Bulldogs 2
After closing out Kalama in six innings via the 10-run mercy rule, the Bulldogs seemed poised for a similarly comfortable victory against Woodland when they sandwiched seven hits around four walks in the first three innings.
But they left the bases loaded against Woodland southpaw Trevor Huddleston in the first and third. They scored twice in the second on Matt Jensen’s bloop double and singles by Shad Rogers, Zack Nelson and Tucker Ibabao, but that inning also ended in frustration on a disputed runner interference call.
A left-hander with an assortment of off-speed pitches, Huddleston then proceeded to turn things around by retiring 11 in a row.
Still, after Jensen had pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam in the fifth, the Bulldogs appeared in good shape with a 2-0 lead.
Hunter and Trevor Huddleston opened the Beaver sixth with consecutive singles, with the runners moving up on an unsuccessful throw to third. Whitmire then lined a single to right field to tie it.
After Whitmire advanced to second on an infield out, Austin Holcomb grounded to second. Nelson threw to first for the out, but Whitmire never stopped at third as Woodland coach Stephen Short waved him home.
First baseman Layne Bruener’s relay to the plate sailed up the third-base line and Whitmire avoided the tag to score what proved to be the winning run.
Incredibly, given their early production, the Bulldogs mustered only one baserunner after the third. Nelson struck out to lead off the seventh, but reached first when the catcher’s throw on the missed third strike struck him in the back.
He was promptly erased, however, when Colton Lucas turned Ibabao’s grounder to third into an around-the-horn double play. Elliot Mendenhall then lined to right field for the final out.
“We need to be mentally tougher,” a disappointed Monte coach Mike Bruner summed up. “When we had chances to put them away, we weren’t focusing on what we should be doing.”
Both teams played excellent defense, with only one error per side.
Bulldogs 11, Chinooks 1
Staff ace Layne Bruner pitched a three-hitter and struck out 14 in six innings as the Bulldogs cruised past Kalama.
Through 4 2/3 innings, only two Chinooks had even put the ball in play against the hard-throwing senior left-hander.
The Bulldogs have experienced better hitting games, as they collected a relatively modest seven singles. A lustier attack wasn’t necessary as Kalama self-destructed defensively. The Chinooks were guilty of seven errors.
Montesano batted around on a five-run first inning. Run-scoring singles by Mendenhall and Bruner were the only hits of the frame, which also included three errors, a walk and three hit batters.
A two-run single by designated hitter Nate Nussbaum in the sixth inning invoked the mercy rule. Nussbaum drove in three runs, while Bruner and Mendenhall had two hits apiece.
Kal 000 010 — 1 3 7 Mon 500 303 — 11 7 1
Vaughn, Drabek (4) and Vossen; Bruner and Ibabao.
RBI: Kalama — Vossen. Montesano — Nussbaum 3, Mendenhall, Bruner, Usher, Jensen. Two hits: Kalama — McDaniel. Montesano — Mendenhall, Bruner.
Winning pitcher — Bruner (walked two; struck out 14). Losing pitcher — Vaughn (walked four; struck out one).
Wood 000 003 0 — 3 9 1 Mon 020 000 0 — 2 7 1
Trevor Huddleston and McQuivey; Jensen and Bussard.
RBI: Woodland — Whitmire. Montesano — Rogers, Ibabao. Two hits: Woodland — H. Huddleston, Holcomb. Montesano — Rogers, Nelson, Jensen. Doubles: Montesano — Jensen.
Winning pitcher — Trevor Huddleston (walked four; struck out four). Losing pitcher — Jensen (walked two; struck out six).