For a day, at least, Montesano’s Evergreen 1A League baseball champs were also the toast of Hoquiam.
The Bulldogs applied the finishing touches to an undisputed league championship and clinched a district berth for Hoquiam in the process by sweeping Rochester, 6-5 and 11-1, in an oft-postponed league-ending doubleheader Friday at Vessey Field.
Layne Bruner homered and doubled in the opening game, while Bradley Spencer and Derrick Waber combined on a five-inning no-hitter in the nightcap for the Bulldogs (13-1, 15-2).
Montesano advances to district 1A competition beginning Tuesday. The Bulldogs will open against Ridgefield at noon at the Toledo High School field.
Hard-hit by graduation after winning district last year, Rochester (7-7 in league) needed a sweep Friday to forge a three-way tie with Hoquiam and Elma for the league’s final two playoff berths. Such an occurrence would have forced a Rochester-Hoquiam playoff game (Elma, with the tiebreaker advantage, was already assured of a district berth) tonight at Hoquiam.
With Rochester out of the picture, the Grizzlies leapfrogged Elma in the district seedings, however, by virtue of a previous win over second-place Tenino. Hoquiam will open district at noon Tuesday at Winlock.
The Bulldogs had already clinched the league title entering yesterday’s games, but Monte coach Mike Bruner confirmed that “Win one for the Grizzlies,” was not his team’s pre-game rallying cry.
“It was just get on a field and play baseball,” Bruner said. “We hadn’t played in (almost) two weeks.”
“In the first game, we looked like we hadn’t seen live pitching for a while,” he continued, “but we came back in the second game and hit well against a good pitcher (Dustin Wilson).”
Bulldogs 6, Warriors 5
Patience was a virtue for Montesano in this contest. Outhit 9-5, they capitalized heavily on 10 walks issued by two Rochester pitchers.
Although they scored in each of the first five innings, the Bulldogs could never shake the Warriors.
They finally moved ahead for good, at 5-4, in the fourth. Shad Rogers, who drew four walks in the contest, collected a free pass leading off and eventually scored on Austin Baker’s infield out.
Layne Bruner, who had homered to right-center in the second, provided what proved to be a vital insurance run in the sixth when his double to center field knocked in Tucker Ibabao.
After sailing through the Rochester sixth, Matt Jensen (the third Monte pitcher) encountered trouble in the seventh.
Following a leadoff walk to John Holman, Wilson and Jordan Colombo stroked consecutive one-out singles to narrow the margin to one and put the potential tying and go-ahead runs aboard.
Jensen, however, struck out Bretton Sharp and retired Andy Sommer on a fly to center fielder Evan Truax.
The win went to Elliot Mendenhall, who relieved an off-form Bruner in the third and allowed one run and two hits in three innings.
Bulldogs 11, Warriors 1
This was the second time this season that Spencer and Waber had combined on a no-hitter. They had blanked Nooksack Valley in a non-leaguer at Marymoor Park in Redmond.
Breaking off some good curves, starter Spencer struck out six in his four-inning mound stint. Waber completed the no-hitter in the fifth, although the Warriors spoiled the shutout on an error, wild pitch and two infield outs.
The Bulldogs broke this one open early by doing all their scoring in the first three innings.
After a couple of errors set the table, Baker, Mendenhall and Spencer delivered RBI singles in the first. Jensen’s two-run double was the big blow in a four-run second and Baker drove in two more with a third-inning triple.
Baker finished with four RBIs, one more than teammate Mendenhall.
After four rain-related postponements this week (one of which came Wednesday after both teams had completed their pre-game warmups), the Bulldogs and Warriors appeared to be experiencing deja vu when a squall hit the field about 20 minutes before the opening game Friday. Additional field maintenance was undertaken after the rain stopped, however, and the contest began about 40 minutes behind schedule.
Roch 030 100 1 — 5 9 1 Monte 112 110 x — 6 5 2
Angwood, Grimmett (5) and Wilson; Bruner, Mendenhall (3), Jensen (6) and Ibabao.
RBI: Rochester — Fosnacht 2, Grimmett, Colombo. Montesano — Bruner 2, Spencer 2, Baker, Ibabao. Two hits: Rochester — Fosnacht, Colombo. Montesano — Bruner. Home runs: Montesano — Bruner. Doubles: Montesano — Bruner.
Winning pitcher — Mendenhall (walked two; struck out three). Losing pitcher — Angwood (walked seven; struck out five).
Monte 344 00 — 11 10 3 Roch 000 01 — 1 0 4
Spencer, Waber (5) and Ibabao; Wilson, Fosnacht (4) and Sharp.
RBI: Montesano — Baker 4, Mendenhall 3, Jensen 2, Spencer. Rochester — Dickerson. Two hits: Montesano — Baker, Mendenhall, Spencer. Triples: Montesano — Baker. Doubles: Montesano — Bruner, Jensen, Spencer.
Winning pitcher — Spencer (walked two; struck out six). Losing pitcher — Wilson (walked three; struck out three).