This was a matchup made for the postseason, two strong programs loaded with pitching, defense and offense meeting early in the Evergreen 1A League schedule on Thursday night.
So forgive Hoquiam for being happy for a doubleheader sweep, but cautious that it’ll see Rochester later on down the road.
Riding a strong pitching performance in each game and buoyed by timely hits and defense, the Grizzlies established some early momentum on the Warriors with hard-fought 4-2 and 6-3 victories at Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam.
“This was a great night of baseball,” Hoquiam High School head coach Steve Jump said. “We have some momentum, but (Rochester) is a great team. They have some great players and I know we’ll see them again in the postseason. I’m really happy with how this turned out. We have Sammy (Lowder) back, throwing like he can and I thought Joel (Brydon) came in and did a great job. This was a team win; everyone contributed today.”
Grizzlies 4, Warriors 2
Both teams brought out their senior ace pitchers — Hoquiam’s Lowder and Rochester’s Dustin Wilson — for the opening game and neither disappointed.
The hard-firing duo combined for 22 strikeouts, limited the offenses to 12 hits overall. The difference came on an eventful sixth inning with Hoquiam at bat.
Down 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Grizzlies (3-0) got a one-out double from Josh Bishop (his second of the game). Wilson got Blake Kelly to strike out on the next at-bat, but catcher Dakota Deal dropped the third strike and Kelly advanced to first on the passed ball. Bishop went to third.
Wilson tried to pick off Kelly at first base, with Joel Brydon at the plate, but his throw went awry. Bishop scored the tying run on the error and Kelly went to second.
Brydon also struck out to Wilson, but Deal had a second-straight dropped third strike. With Brydon running up the first-base line, Deal hesitated to get room to throw and heaved the ball into right field. Kelly scored the go-ahead run and Brydon ended up at third base.
Kyle Standstipher was the third HHS batter to reach base on a dropped third strike following Brydon’s at-bat and Jerod Steen made it 4-2 with an RBI single to right-center field.
Lowder picked up the complete-game win by closing the door in the top of the seventh inning on Rochester. Lowder struck out 11 and walked three.
Wilson was the tough-luck loser who struck out 11 for the Warriors. He gave himself a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning with a one-out RBI double to left-center field, his second double of the game.
Brydon and Steen were the only Hoquiam players to drive in runs, with Bishop leading the charge with three hits overall.
“We didn’t quit,” Jump said. “Rochester had an off-inning. They’re a good team and they’ll take those losses and become stronger in the end. That is what you have to do when you are a good team. I was pleased that we were able to have a good turn of fortune. They’re a good team and they still walk away as a contender. We have to keep our focus and take everything one game at a time.”
Grizzlies 6, Warriors 3
A four-run first inning for Hoquiam staked Standstipher to an early lead, which was held up by a yeoman’s effort from Brydon in relief and several big defensive plays.
Standstipher gave up a two-out RBI single to Rochester’s Deric Hawes in the top of the first, but enjoyed his teammates’ efforts at the plate. Brydon hit a two-run single to take the lead back, while Standstipher and Skyler Jump had back-to-back RBI hits for a 4-1 lead.
Rochester starter Dylan Fosnacht settled down after the rough start, but he and his teammates were unable to get close against Standstipher and Brydon. Standstipher was relieved by Brydon with two runners on and two outs in the top of the third inning.
The teams traded runs in the second and fourth innings. Rochester got a sacrifice fly RBI from Fosnacht off Standstipher in the second and Wyatt Singer slugged a two-out RBI double off Brydon.
Hoquiam responded with a two-out RBI single by Brydon in the second and a run scored off a fielding error in the fourth inning. Brydon finished with two hits and three RBI in the contest.
Brydon settled in after the fourth, holding Rochester at bay before gutting out the seventh inning. The Warriors led off with back-to-back singles by Singer and Wilson and got a one-out walk from Hawes to load the bases.
In what was one of several big defensive plays of the game, Brydon got a game-ending double play when third baseman Tristan Stutesman took a sharp grounder from Matt Shields, stepped on third base to force Wilson and threw to first for the final out.
Stutesman, along with fellow infielders Steen, Bishop and Standstipher, all made big defensive plays for outs to either stall or end Rochester threats.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Coach Jump said. “I really want to point out the work Stutesman and Steen did. You know that you have to make the ordinary plays and a few spectaculars. We had some spectacular plays that made the difference.”
Jump cited Brydon and Bishop for their work at the plate and Jack Skinner for catching both ends of the doubleheader.
On Tuesday, Hoquiam hits the road to take on Rainier.
Wilson and Deal; Lowder and Bishop.
RBI: Rochester — Wilson, Sommer. Hoquiam — Brydon, Steen. Three hits: Hoquiam — Bishop. Two hits: Rochester — Wilson. Doubles: Rochester — Wilson 2. Hoquiam — Bishop 2.
Winning pitcher — Lowder (11 strikeouts, three walks). Losing pitcher — Wilson (11 strikeouts).
Fosnacht and Deal; Ky. Standstipher, Brydon (3) and Bishop.
RBI: Rochester — Fosnacht, Singer, Hawes. Hoquiam — Brydon 3, Ky. Standstipher, Jump. Two hits: Rochester — Singer, Wilson. Hoquiam — Brydon. Doubles: Rochester — Singer. Hoquiam — Bishop, Ky. Standstipher.
Winning pitcher — Ky. Standstipher (three strikeouts, seven walks). Losing pitcher — Fosnacht (seven strikeouts, three walks).