MONTESANO — The Bulldogs enjoyed an opening game walk-off home run so much they staged an encore performance Wednesday.
Ending both games with homers, Montesano swept Rochester in a hastily arranged Evergreen 1A League baseball doubleheader at Vessey Field.
Layne Bruner’s eighth-inning grand slam gave the unbeaten Bulldogs a dramatic come-from-behind 6-2 victory in the opener. Evan Bialkowsky’s pinch-hit two-run shot in the sixth inning closed out an 11-1 mercy-rule triumph in the nightcap.
Originally scheduled for today, the games were moved up 24 hours due to an unfavorable weather forecast later in the week.
The victories left the Bulldogs 8-0 in league and 9-0 overall. The first game, however, was anything but routine. Monte needed Kody Usher’s two-run, two-out single in the seventh inning to avert defeat in that contest.
Matt Jensen, who came on in relief of Bruner in the opening game and went the distance on the mound in the nightcap, collected both victories.
Bulldogs 6, Warriors 2
The standard quota of professional scouts saw Bruner pitch a gem in the opening game. The senior left-hander allowed only two hits and struck out 16 in his seven-inning stint.
He entered the seventh, however, on the hook for the defeat. Mixing a live fastball with a sweeping curve, Rochester right-hander Dustin Wilson was working on a one-hitter and — thanks to a pair of unearned runs in the fourth — owned a 2-0 lead.
“He throws like that every game,” Rochester coach Jerry Striegel observed.
Tucker Ibabao reached first on a throwing error and Elliot Mendenhall followed with a single to open the Monte seventh. Bruner bunted the runners into scoring position, but Wilson retired Jensen on an infield fly for the second out.
Usher, however, came through by lining Wilson’s second pitch into center field. While the speedy Mendenhall almost certainly would have scored the tying run from second, in any event, it became academic when the center fielder misplayed the ball.
Relieving Bruner (who had thrown 103 pitches through seven) on the mound, Jensen worked a scoreless eighth. The scouts who had been recording every Bruner pitch quickly departed the premises at this point and thus missed their prospect’s game-ending blast.
Richard Smith’s leadoff single in the Montesano eighth finished Wilson and brought Dylan Fosnacht to the mound. Walks to Shad Rogers and Ibabao, sandwiched around Zack Nelson’s sacrifice, loaded the bases with one out.
They remained filled when Mendenhall bounced into a force play at the plate.
Bruner, however, then launched a towering drive that cleared the fence just to the right of the 345-foot sign.
“I’ve got to give it to this team for battling and not giving up,” Montesano coach Mike Bruner said. “They weren’t hitting the ball well, but they battled and stayed with it.”
Bulldogs 11, Warriors 1
Montesano scored in every inning in a game considerably less dramatic than the opener.
Bialkowsky, however, provided a suitable climax by denting a vehicle parked beyond the fence in right-center with Nate Nussbaum aboard in the sixth. That implemented the 10-run mercy rule.
Oddly enough, that was only Monte’s third extra-base hit of the afternoon. Ibabao had stroked a two-run double for the lone non-homer in that category.
Four of Montesano’s 10 hits in this game, in fact, were either bunts or infield singles. The Bulldogs further capitalized on seven walks. Layne Bruner was also hit by a pitch on each of his first three plate appearances in this game, matching a dubious feat by Rochester’s Dom Angwood in the opener.
Bruner was first plunked (ironically by Angwood) in the first inning, in the midst of a two-run frame that also included a pair of walks and singles by Jensen and Ibabao.
Jensen tossed a six-hitter and was aided by fine defense. Second baseman Nelson threw out a runner at the plate in the fifth inning and center fielder Mendenhall uncorked a howitzer from the base of the fence to gun down Wilson at second on what appeared to be a certain double an inning later.
The Bulldogs host rival Elma on Tuesday.
Roch 000 200 00 — 2 3 3 Monte 000 000 24 — 6 5 3
Wilson, Fosnacht (8) and Deal; Bruner, Jensen (8) and Ibabao, Bussard (8).
RBI: Rochester — Haley. Montesano — Bruner 4, Usher 2. Two hits: Montesano — Bruner. Home runs: Montesano — Bruner.
Winning pitcher — Jensen (walked none; struck out two). Losing pitcher — Wilson (walked none; struck out six).
Roch 000 100 — 1 6 1 Monte 212 132 — 11 10 0
Angwood, Colombo (3), Eastman (5) and Wilson; Jensen and Bussard.
RBI: Rochester — Wilson. Montesano — Ibabao 2, Bialkowsky 2, Bruner, Jensen, Bussard. Two hits: Rochester — Wilson. Montesano — Ibabao, Mendenhall, Jensen. Home runs: Montesano — Bialkowsky. Doubles: Rochester — Wilson. Montesano — Ibabao.
Winning pitcher — Jensen (walked one; struck out three). Losing pitcher — Angwood (walked five; struck out two).