MONTESANO — A sixth-inning scoring exchange assuredly did not benefit Montesano’s Little League all-stars.
Countering a two-run Monte top of the sixth with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning, Chehalis captured the District III Major League Little League championship with a 3-2 win in the winner-take-all title game Saturday at Nelson Field.
Carver Brennan’s run-scoring infield single enabled the Chehalins to successfully defend last year’s district title and advance to state next Saturday at West Seattle.
The title contest was a much lower-scoring reprise of last year’s district final at Chehalis, in which the Lewis County club trumped a three-run Monte top of the seventh with four runs in its half of the frame for a 17-16 triumph.
In contrast, Saturday’s contest was dominated by starting pitchers — although neither, as it developed, figured in the decision.
Hard-throwing Montesano starter Payton Quintinilla struck out 13 and, incredibly, allowed only two fair balls before reaching his 85-pitch limit in the fifth inning. One of those two, however, was Bryce Cline’s first-inning homer that rattled off the scoreboard beyond the center-field fence.
With Colby White working on a three-hit shutout through five, that was enough for Chehalis to take a 1-0 lead into the dramatic sixth.
Braden Dohrmann’s lead-off line drive to third was dropped for a two-base error to open Monte’s half of the inning. Cole Daniels bunted in front of the plate and all hands were safe when catcher LeAndre Gaines fired to third base without tagging the batter and Dohrmann retreated safely to second.
Consecutive walks to Quintinilla and Parker Plato then forced across Dohrmann with the tying run. After White (who reached his pitch limit in this inning) and reliever Chance Bishop combined to strike out the next two batters, Ben Wills worked Bishop for another free pass to give the hosts what proved to be a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Monte reliever Cyrus Parsons. who had struck out the only batter he faced in the fifth inning, still had to face the top of the Chehalis order in the bottom of the sixth.
Jaiyden Camoza reached second when his hard grounder was misplayed in both the infield and outfield and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He narrowly averted being doubled off after Daniels snared Cline’s line drive to short for the first out.
The dangerous Gaines then tied it with a line-drive double that sizzled off the tip of second baseman Dohrmann’s glove and rolled to the right-centerfield fence. Drew Reynolds grounded to Dohrmann at second, with Gaines moving up to third.
Brennan then grounded the first pitch into the hole between short and third. Daniels made a terrific backhanded stop, but the speedy Brennan had already crossed the bag by the time the throw glanced off the first baseman’s glove.
“That’s a good team there,” Montesano manager Corey Daniels said while nodding in Chehalis’ direction,” and a good team here. I know we would have represented (the district) well. For some reason, we didn’t have it today.”
While proud of his team’s effort, Daniels was perplexed by its lack of offensive production. A high-scoring team throughout the tourney, Monte didn’t muster a hit in the final four innings.
“I think if you had written up every possible scenario, that would have been off the page,” the Montesano manager asserted.
The hosts did have chances in the first two innings.
Dohrmann opened the game with a double to left field, but was stranded at second.
Garrett Iverson walked to lead off the Montesano second, but was struck by the ball on Parsons’ bouncer to the right side. That technically represented a single, with Iverson being ruled out.
Wills singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. White, however, turned Cayleb Reninger’s comebacker to the box into an inning-ending double play.
Monte000002—2 3 1 Che100002—3 3 1
Quintinilla, Parsons (5) and Plato; White, Bishop (6) and Gaines.