CHEHALIS — Untimely miscues, coupled with stellar Chehalis pitching, have forced Montesano’s all-stars to take one extra step in the District III Little League Major League Baseball Tournament.
Capitalizing on errors to do all its scoring in the fifth inning, Chehalis blanked Monte, 3-0, in the district winners bracket final Tuesday night at Stan Hedwall Park.
The host Chehalins advance to the title round beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.
Montesano, meanwhile, will face defending district champion Centralia, a 14-2 winner over Willapa Harbor earlier Tuesday, in a loser-contest scheduled for 6 tonight. The winner will face Chehalis for the championship.
If the Monte-Centralia victor beats Chehalis on Friday, a winner-take-all second title game is scheduled for noon Saturday.
Chehalis pitchers Daniel Fagerness and Dillon Smith stymied a Montesano attack that had produced 41 runs and 10 homers in its first two district contests.They combined to allow only three hits while striking out eight.
Monte’s Payson Parker, Lane Douglass and Dakoyta Reninger matched them on the mound, teaming for a four-hitter. But while Chehalis played flawless defense, Montesano was guilty of five errors. Four of of those came in the fateful fifth, including two on one critical play.
Chehalis’ Cooper Viggers worked Douglass for a walk and Garrett Von Moos reached on an infield error with one out in the fifth.
Fagerness followed with a line drive to center field that was dropped. With the runners forced to hold in anticipation of a catch, Monte still had a shot at force plays at second or third base, but a throw to the latter bag airmailed the third baseman.
Attempting to score on the overthrow, Viggers was gunned down at the plate. A return throw to third, however, sailed down the left-field line, enabling pinch-runner Tyler Hampson and Fagerness to both cross the plate.
Jack Mallonee followed with a triple to right field and scored when Gabe O’Neil reached second on a hit-error combination.
Relieving starter Fagerness in the sixth, Smith issued a leadoff walk to Douglass. One out later, Teegan Zillyett lined to third baseman Ryan Pedersen, who made a shoetop catch and doubled Douglass off first to end it.
Two of Montesano’s hits went for extra bases, but the Grays Harbor County club failed to convert those scoring opportunities.
Zillyett, who had slugged four homers in the first two games, tripled with two outs in the first, but Fagerness ended the inning with a strikeout.
Parker Plato doubled with one out in the fourth but was also stranded, as Pedersen made a fine play on Garret Iverson’s grounder to third for the third out.
A right-hander with good movement on his breaking ball, Parker allowed only two hits in his 3 2/3-inning stint. Since he was under 50 pitches while working on his final batter before being removed, he will be eligible for mound duty again Friday under Little League’s complicated pitching eligibility rules.
Fagerness was left in for 15 more pitches and won’t be able to return to the mound until an if-necessary second title game Saturday.
Centralia 14, Willapa Harbor 2
Centralia sandwiched 11 hits around 10 walks to eliminate Willapa Harbor in four innings via the 10-run mercy rule.
Six of those free passes came in a five-run first. Colby Steele hit a bases-clearing double and Tyler Milton followed with a two-run homer to highlight an eight-run second.
Both Willapa Harbor runs came in the fourth. Luke Gerow reached on an error and scored on Matty Pearson’s fielder’s choice grounder. Carter Pearson followed with an RBI double but was thrown out at the plate on Alex Samplawski’s single.
Willapa Harbor, which placed fourth, did well to reach this round.
The Pacific County crew rallied from a 7-0 deficit to outlast Larch Mountain in seven innings, 8-7, in a previously unreported Monday night contest.
Drew Rose’s brilliant relief pitching — he finished with five scoreless innings and struck out 12 — kept the Mountaineers at bay. Frank Roonsburg had a double among his two hits for Willapa Harbor.
Monte 000 000 — 0 3 5 Che 000 03x — 3 4 0
Parker, Douglass (4), Reninger (5) and Douglass, Reninger (5); Fagerness, Smith (6) and Baker.
Cen 581 0 — 14 11 3 WH 000 2 — 2 4 3
Frias, Fast (2), Mack (3), Crews (4) and Steele; Enslow, A. Pearson (2), M. Pearson (2), Minton (3) and Rose.