ELMA — Montesano batters absorbed their share of lumps, but dished out just as many in a critical seventh inning against rival Elma on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite trailing 8-3 after five innings, the Bulldogs kept fighting and scored 11 runs in the final two innings, including eight runs in the seventh, for a scintillating 14-10 Evergreen 1A baseball win at Eagle Field.
With the Bulldogs trailing 10-6, Jake Herzog was hit by a pitch (one of eight batters Eagle pitchers hit in the contest) to lead off the seventh inning for Montesano. Riley Olson and Sawyer Rhoden followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases.
Maguire Cavanaugh walked to score Herzog and Kody Usher was also hit by a pitch, which plated Olson. Cole Nelson followed with an RBI grounder to first base to cut Elma’s lead to 10-9.
The next batter, Jacob Hliboki, smashed a line drive deep into center field for a two-run double. Cavanaugh and Usher scored to give Montesano its first lead since the second inning, 11-10.
After an intentional walk to Evan Bialkowsky Jordan Bussard hit a two-run double to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 13-10. Bussard advanced to third base on a passed ball and came home while Elma’s catcher, Todd Swinhart, struggled to locate the ball. After Swinhart picked up the ball and flipped it to the pitcher, Cole Thornock, Bussard scored the final run after escaping a third-base line rundown.
Usher came in to pitch the seventh inning for the Bulldogs (3-4 in league play, 3-5 overall). The senior struck out two batters during a 1-2-3 seventh to save the victory.
“We’ve been telling our guys, ‘Just compete. Every pitch. Every at-bat,’ and today I think they just put it all together,” Montesano head coach Mike Bruner said. “We had to have a lot of guys come in and do certain jobs today and they all did what they were supposed to do. They stayed tough in the seventh, and I’m really happy with what they did. Every guy contributed and did the job they had to do.”
Despite the fact that his team led most of the way, Elma head coach Scott Rowland felt that the Eagles (4-4, 6-4) were affected by miscues throughout the game.
“The wheels fell off way before (the seventh inning),“ Rowland said. “We hit eight batters. We gave them 13 free passes — five bases on balls and eight hit batters. Then you add on the errors we made, and there you go. End of story.”
Bruner added that a win like this could provide a spark that his young, inexperienced team needs.
“That is the game and the inning that we needed,” Bruner said. “We’ve been telling these guys that even though they’re young and inexperienced, that’s OK. They are still capable of a lot of really great things. To actually have it happen on the field will help them believe in what they’re doing. They are a really talented group.”
Elma changed pitchers twice in the seventh inning to try to slow down Montesano’s offense. The Eagles even went back to starter Austin Neary, who pitched five innings and allowed three runs. However, the Eagles’ ace lasted just one-third of an inning — one walk, two hits allowed — in his second stint on the mound.
In addition to his pitching efforts, Neary put forth an impressive offensive performance for the Eagles. The senior reached base in all four of his plate appearances and recorded three hits, including a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the fifth inning that put Elma up 7-3.
The Eagles seemed to be firmly in control of the game after the fifth. Elma scored four runs on five hits in the bottom of the fifth to increase its lead to 8-3. In addition to Neary’s two-run shot, Ricky Escalante drove in Swinhart with a double and Thornock hit a single that plated Thomas Hughes.
Montesano will be back in action today when it hosts Forks for a doubleheader. Elma will travel to Rochester for a doubleheader of its own on Thursday.
Montesano 110 013 8 – 14 12 2
Elma 020 242 0 – 10 10 3
Nelson, Englund (4), Herzog (5), Usher (7) and Bussard; Neary, Camenzind (6), Neary (7), Thornock (7) and Swinhart.
RBI: Montesano – Hliboki 3, Usher 2, Bialkowski 2, Bussard 2, Cavanaugh, Nelson, Neglund. Elma – Escalante 2, Neary 2, Thornock 2, Robinette 2, Camenzind. Three Hits: Montesano – Rhoden. Elma – Neary, Hughes. Two Hits: Montesano – Hliboki. Elma – Swinhart. Home Runs: Elma – Neary. Doubles: Montesano – Hliboki 2, Bussard. Elma – Swinhart, Escalante, Neary.
Winning pitcher —Herzog (walked two; struck out two). Losing pitcher — Camenzind (walked two; struck out none).