Montesano explodes to rally past Centralia in District Little League tournament

CHEHALIS — The biggest hits came from Montesano’s smallest players on Wednesday.

Facing elimination and a 9-1 deficit against Centralia, Montesano’s 11-12 Major All-Stars put away the game by scoring 19 of the game’s final 20 runs — 17 of them unanswered — for a 20-10, five-inning mercy rule victory in the District III 11-12 Major All-Star tournament at Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis.

The win for Montesano sets up a rematch with host Chehalis at 6 p.m. Friday in the district title game. Monte will need to win on Friday to force a winner-take-all game Saturday for the chance to advance into next week’s state tournament.

Montesano hit three home runs in the contest, all of them big in their own right. However, none were bigger than the final hit.

Parker Plato saw teammate Teegan Zillyett intentionally walked (for the third time in the game) in front of him to load the bases in the fifth inning. On an 0-1 pitch, Plato sent the Montesano fans home happy with a walk-off grand slam far over the left-field fence for the 10-run mercy rule. It was Plato’s second home run of the season and his teammates carried him off the field after the post-game handshakes.

The diminutive Plato, who went 3-for-4, a grand slam and six RBI at the plate, wasn’t the smallest Monte player to strike it over the shrubbery lined outfield fence. That honor falls to Cole Daniels and his hit came in the pivotal eight-run third inning that erased the 10-3 deficit.

Power-hitter Jett Blowers (three hits, two RBI) started the inning with a solo home run to dead center field that smacked the batting-cage shed way behind the outfield fence at 10-4. Shaydon Farmer’s RBI double set the stage for Daniels, who came off the bench as a reserve. On the first pitch he saw, Daniels stroked his first career over-the-fence home run far over the left-field fence for a two-run bomb and a 10-7 score.

Monte tacked on four more runs, tying the game on Bowers’ second hit of the inning, an RBI infield single to score Zillyett. The go-ahead run came across when Plato took advantage of Bowers’ stolen-base attempt at second base for a momentum-grabbing 11-10 marker.

On the mound, relief pitcher Dakoyta Reninger put in yeoman’s work to keep Centralia at bay. Centralia sent 20 batters to the plate in the opening two innings off starter Plato and Reninger. Centralia’s Colby Steele hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning for a 10-3 lead and it represented the final hit for his squad. Following the solo shot, Reninger retired seven straight batters before his pitch count limit hit with two outs in the fifth inning.

Zillyett came in in relief and got a strikeout on three pitches to end the inning with Montesano clinging to a 11-10 lead. Reninger struck out four of the final six batters he faced, finished with six strikeouts in four total innings of work for the victory.

Centralia went through four pitchers in the fifth inning in an attempt to slow down Montesano and give itself a chance for a sixth-inning rally. Monte, however, didn’t waste time getting runners on base and putting pressure on Centralia’s defense.

Plato started the scoring with an RBI single, then Montesano posted four runs off wild pitches, passed balls and throwing errors for a 16-10 lead. With Daniels on third and Lane Douglass on second, Centralia intentionally walked power hitter Zillyett with two outs to load the bases.

Plato did his work, slugging the walk-off grand slam to end the game.

For the first 2 1/2 innings, Centralia looked like the team that would be moving on to Friday’s game against Chehalis.

A five-run first inning, highlighted by Derek Beairsto’s two-run home run, put Centralia up on Montesano, 5-0. Centralia knocked out starter Plato after 1/3 of an inning and sent 11 batters to the plate. Reninger came in and limited the damage, but was hit for four runs in the second inning and a 9-1 deficit.

Centralia starter Jerod Frias was masterful against Montesano, giving up just two hits, including Douglass’ two-run double in the second, before he was pulled after 37 pitches to give him eligibility to pitch in Friday’s game if Centralia made it there. Reliever Beairsto got out of the second inning, but was the first of two pitchers to be touched up by Montesano’s batting order in the third.

Beairsto’s final pitch was to Montesano’s smallest player, who delivered one of the team’s biggest hits of the game.

Cent 541 00 — 10 5 5

Monte 128 09 — 20 16 4

Frias, Beairsto (2), Wood (3), Fast (5), Hull (5), Mack (5) and Steele, Frias (3); Plato, Reninger (1), Zillyett (5) and Douglass.