Montesano baseball finishes regular season undefeated after sweep of Elma

ELMA — Montesano added an exclamation point to the end of its undefeated regular season on Thursday by sweeping an Evergreen 1A League baseball doubleheader against Elma at Eagle Field.

The Bulldogs recorded 30 hits in the two games and received solid performances from both starting pitchers in prevailing, 14-1 and 12-3.

Layne Bruner drove in five runs and Tucker Ibabao allowed just two hits in the first game. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and took advantage of several Eagles fielding miscues to win in five innings via the mercy rule.

Elma hung tough for the first few innings of the nightcap, but the Bulldog offense proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle. A seven-run fourth inning provided Montesano all the security it needed.

Montesano 14, Elma 1

Shad Rogers led off the game for Montesano with a single into left-center field. Two batters later, a single by Elliot Mendenhall moved Rogers to third. Then Bruner crushed a double into deep right field, scoring Rogers and Mendenhall.

In the third inning, Ibabao reached base on an error and advanced to third base on a double by Mendenhall. Once again Bruner was up with two runners on, and once again he came through with a two- run double.

After a Kody Usher double moved Bruner to third base, Matthew Jensen hit a line-drive single into left field to plate both runners and give the Bulldogs (18-0, 20-0) a commanding 7-0 lead.

“I think what stands out the most is our approach to the plate today,” Montesano head coach Mike Bruner said. “Today we did what we’ve been trying to do all year long. Our guys stayed on top of the baseball. We just tried to hit line drives, and let the ball find air on its own, and I think it showed all day long.”

Elma struggled in the field and committed five errors.

“We played, defensively, our worst game of the season,” Elma head coach Scott Rowland said. “We just didn’t come to play and it showed. Defensively, we’re a lot better than that. We just didn’t get the job done.”

Ibabao pitched all five innings for Montesano. The senior did not walk a batter and allowed just two hits and one unearned run.

Montesano 12, Elma 3

Elma’s Austin Black led off the bottom half of the third inning for the Eagles with a line-drive single into left-center field. Todd Swinhart followed with a double into deep left-center field that moved Black to third base. Two batters later, Nick Camenzind hit a grounder that scored Black and moved Swinhart to second base.

Charlie Simpson singled up the middle to drive in Swinhart. Then a Tyler LaDue double plated Simpson, giving the Eagles their first lead of the day at 3-2.

The Elma lead was short-lived, however. Usher and Jensen lead off the fourth inning with back-to-back singles. The pair each advanced a base when Jordan Bussard hit into a fielder’s choice.

Usher then scored when Shad Rogers reached on a fielding error, tying the game at three. Then Jensen scored on a single by Zack Nelson, giving the Bulldogs the lead once again, 4-3.

After blanking Elma in the bottom half of the fourth, Montesano recorded six hits and put seven runs on the board in the fifth inning. The offensive outburst put the Bulldogs up 11-3 and essentially crushed any hopes of an Elma upset.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Rowland said. “They’re a good team and good teams make things happen. They played well. We didn’t play well.”

“I’m really happy with today,” Bruner said. “We had some mental things and some baserunning issues that I’d like to clean up, but Elma is a tough team. There isn’t a team in this league that they can’t beat. We knew we had to come out today and play our best baseball.”

After a shaky third inning on the mound, Mendenhall settled down. The senior did not allow any hits in his final four innings of work. He went the distance on the mound, allowing six hits.

“I’m very proud of the guys. This is an accomplishment,” Bruner said of finishing the regular season undefeated. “However, we still have a lot of work to do. It’s not going to mean as much if we don’t accomplish our goals in the playoffs and play to our potential in the playoffs. We have some pretty high goals, but they are attainable goals. This was step one.”

Montesano will travel to Toledo on Tuesday for the District Tournament. They’ll open against Kalama at noon.

The losses finished Elma’s season at 9-9, 11-9.

Monte 214 61 — 14 15 1 Elma 001 00 — 1 2 5

Ibabao and Bussard; Simpson, Neary (4), Eaton (5) and Black.

RBl: Montesano — Bruner 5, Jensen 3, Mendenhall 2, Rogers 2, Ibabo, Nussbaum; Elma – Black. Four hits: Montesano – Mendenhall. Three Hits: Montesano – Bruner. Two hits: Montesano —Jensen, Rogers, Usher. Doubles: Montesano — Bruner 2, Mendenhall 2, Ibabao, Usher; Elma – Neary.

Winning pitcher — Ibabao (walked none; struck out two). Losing pitcher — Simpson (walked none; struck out one).

Monte 101 270 1 – 12 15 1 Elma 003 000 0 – 3 6 1

Mendenhall and Bussard; Camenzind, Hamilton (7) and Black and Hughes (6).

RBl: Montesano — Mendenhall 4, Rogers 2, Jensen, Nelson, Usher; Elma – Camenzind, LaDue, Simpson. Four hits: Montesano – Mendenhall. Three Hits: Montesano – Jensen. Two hits: Montesano — Nelson, Rogers, Usher; Elma – LaDue. Doubles: Montesano — Rogers; Elma – Ladue, Swinhart.

Winning pitcher — Mendenhall (walked one; struck out four). Losing pitcher — Camenzind (walked three; struck out none).