MONTESANO — East County baseball rivals Elma and Montesano each found something to savor in their final Evergreen 1A League doubleheader.
Nick Camenzind pitched a disputed one-hitter as the Eagles blanked the Bulldogs, 4-0, in the opening game of the twin bill Wednesday at Vessey Field.
Montesano scored twice in the sixth inning to complete its season with a 4-3 victory in the nightcap.
The Eagles (12-6, 14-6), who emerged from the playoff bubble by reeling off an eight-game winning streak that ended in yesterday’s second game, advanced to district competition next week. The Evergreen’s third seed, Elma will face the Trico League runner-up at noon Tuesday at Tenino.
Montesano, which graduated all but one starter from last year’s state runner-up squad, saw its season end at 8-10 and 9-11. Bulldog coach Mike Bruner, however, saw considerable late-season progress.
“It’s youth. We had three freshmen and four sophomores who played significant parts in the last part of the season,” Bruner said. “That’s a bright future.”
Wednesday’s doubleheader represented more of a mixed bag for Elma, which had stellar pitching performances from Camenzind and Austin Neary marred by shaky defense. The Eagles were guilty of seven errors in the two contests and misplayed a couple of other balls that were scored as hits.
After hitting very well during their winning streak, the Eagles mustered only four singles in the second game— all of those coming in a row in the fourth inning.
“In the last two weeks, that was probably our most lackluster offensive performance,” Elma coach Scott Rowland said. “But I don’t want to make it sound negative. It was a huge positive getting to this point.”
Eagles 4, Bulldogs 0
Camenzind pitched well enough to throw a no-hitter. The senior right-hander, in fact, was credited with the no-no by some sources.
The discrepancy between scorebooks came on a play in the Montesano seventh inning. With one out, Jacob Hliboki sent a ground ball up the middle. Elma shortstop Ricky Escalante, ranging far to his left, made a good play getting to the ball but was unable to field it cleanly.
Elma coaches considered it an error, but the Montesano scorekeepers, representing the official book, called it a hit — as did the two sports writers covering the game.
That triggered Monte’s only threat. A two-out error and a walk to Maguire Cavanaugh loaded the bases and brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Camenzind retired Jordan Bussard on a pop fly second baseman Rio Ortega handled in shallow right field.
With the exception of the seventh, Camenzind was in total command. Masterfully mixing his fastball and sharp-breaking curve, he allowed only three baserunners — all on errors — through six innings.
“He threw the breaking ball, he located the fastball,” Rowland said. “You couldn’t ask for a better performance.”
While Camenzind struck out only three (none in the final four innings), the Bulldogs seldom hit the ball hard.
“He pitched a heck of a game,” Bruner acknowledged. “We made contact, but we never made solid contact.”
Camenzind also played a role in a first-inning run that provided all the necessary support. His one-out single to right field sent batterymate Todd Swinhart, who had walked, to third. Swinhart scored on Neary’s infield out.
Tristan Robinette made it 3-0 an inning later with a two-run homer over the left-field fence.
Riley Olsen pitched well in relief for Montesano, allowing only one run and two hits in five innings.
Bulldogs 4, Eagles 3
Successive two-out singles by Neary, Thomas Hughes, Ortega and Cole Thornock in the fourth represented the sum of Elma’s attack against Montesano pitchers Kody Usher and Greg Benner. It was enough, however, to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead.
That held up until the Bulldog sixth. Bussard led off against starter Neary by beating out a high hopper down the third base line. Cavanaugh’s sacrifice bunt and Olsen’s single to center put runners at the corners with one out.
Sawyer Rhoden greeted reliever Thornock with a solid single to left field that tied it. After shortstop Camenzind handled Jake Herzog’s slow bouncer and threw out Olsen at the plate, Usher’s spinning grounder to second was muffed. That enabled Rhoden to cross the plate with what proved to be the winning run.
Benner, who had worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out predicament in the sixth, escaped a lesser jam in the final inning. Seth Osgood drew a lead-off walk and was bunted to second by Swinhart.
Then Benner, who mixed a live fastball with a knuckleball he was evidently throwing for the first time at the varsity level, struck out Escalante and Camenzind to end it.
Bruner called Usher’s and Benner’s mound performances their best of the season. In contrast to the Eagles, Montesano played solid defense, committing only one error in the two games.
Usher and Evan Bialkowsky, Montesano’s two seniors, were honored in informal ceremonies between games. Bruner praised both players for their contributions to the program.
Elma 120 100 0 — 4 7 4 Monte 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Camenzind and Swinhart; Nelson, Olsen (3) and Bussard.
RBI: Elma — Robinette 2, Escalante, Neary. Two hits: Elma — Ortega, Osgood. Home runs: Elma — Robinette. Doubles: Elma — Ortega.
Winning pitcher — Camenzind (walked one; struck out three). Losing pitcher — Nelson (walked two; struck out one).
Elma 000 300 0 — 3 4 3 Monte 002 002 x — 4 7 0
Neary, Thornock (6) and Swinhart; Usher, Benner (6) and Bussard.
RBI: Elma — Thornock 2, Ortega. Montesano — Rhoden, Nelson, Bussard. Two hits: Montesano — Rhoden, Bussard.
Winning pitcher — Benner (walked one; struck out four). Losing pitcher — Neary (walked three; struck out two).