Bulldog Bradley Spencer arrives safe at home, stealing the base on a loose ball. Spencer was awarded first base after being hit by the Kalama pitcher, made his way around the base paths to position himself for the steal and further extend the Montesano lead during District IV play at Castle Rock.
— 1A Evergreen League Most Valuable Player, Austin Baker, swarms the 1A Evergreen League First Team Pitcher, Layne Bruner, as high fives go around at the conclusion of the District IV Title game against Kalama. The Bulldogs took the game and title, 11-4 on May, 12 at Castle Rock.
Bulldogs celebrate after defeating Kalama 11-4 to clinch the District IV 1A Baseball Title. Montesano advances to Regional play and will take on Meridian to start their run for a 1A State Title.
CASTLE ROCK — There will be no trip to Anacortes this year for the Montesano Bulldogs. Their latest win over Kalama, 11-4, to take first place in District IV 1A baseball, keeps them closer to home as they advance into Regional play against Meridian on May 19, back at Castle Rock.
Taking the win for Montesano, Layne Bruner, pitched three innings with six strikeouts, three walks and opened up with the first Chinook batter taking his base by being hit by a pitch. Bruner also singled twice with two RBIs.
The Bulldogs threw three pitchers at the Chinooks over 6.5 innings: Derrick Waber relieved Bruner and Matthew Jensen closed them out. The trio allowed only three solid hits to the Kalama team. Other batters reached bases on Bulldog fielding errors, but the defense held the Chinooks to only one run per inning in the first, third, fourth and seventh. The single run lead by Kalama held through the second inning.
On the heels of Burner’s first three strikeouts, the Bulldogs set to work opening up with a Jensen single, a Waber double and a walk to Shad Rogers to load the bases for Montesano for the first time in the game. Bruner got a shot through the infield, singled and drove in two runs, leaving runners on the corners. Austin Baker drew another walk, loading the bases again for the Bulldogs, But Chinook hurler Lars Rider was able to fan Elliot Mendenhall and retire the Bulldogs with three men aboard.
The Chinooks came right back in the third, setting up a bases loaded situation of their own with no outs, but was only able to generate one run off an error from the Bulldog shortstop which allowed Chinook catcher Tanner Vossen to score off a Rider at bat. Bruner then shut down the remaining Kalama batters by registering his last three strikes-outs in a row.
The game stayed tight through the next inning with each team taking turns scoring one or two runs during their time at bat until the fifth inning. With Montesano now up 5-3, Waber — who had started the fourth inning for the Bulldogs — made quick work of the three Chinook batters, leaving two at the plate watching the umpire call strike three and one a pop-up to the infield.
The Chinooks had also rotated pitchers giving the charge to Austin Vaughn, who walked his first Montesano batter. Vaughn brought in to relieve Rider at the end the third inning, later hit one Bulldog batter and gave up his second walk when relieved by the third Kalama pitcher, Austin Lien.
With one runner on, Lien gave up another base as Bulldog Bradley Spencer caught a ball in his back and was awarded first base. Waber moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Next up, Rogers hit into a fielder’s choice. The Chinooks infield threw Rogers out at first, allowing Nate Nussbaum — who had been sent in to run for the walk earlier awarded to Zack Nelson — to score from third. Bradley, now at third took advantage of a bad pitch and stole home clearing the bases for Montesano. With two outs and no one on, Bruner started it all over again for the Bulldogs.
A Bruner single was followed by a Baker double. Bruner scored on a Mendenhall walk, which kept Bulldog runners on the bases. Two more solid single hits from Tucker Ibabao and Jensen, each scoring the runners in front of them, mounted the Bulldog tally to a 10-3 lead before the Chinooks could get the final out.
Jensen took the mound for Montesano after two walks placed runners aboard for Kalama from Waber. The next three Chinook batters flew out, popped out and grounded out, leaving the two stranded.
Montesano continued to load the bases in the sixth inning, but was only able to bring one additional across as the last Kalama pitcher Elijah Bannister finished the bottom of the sixth. Kalama reached with their first batter in their final at bats and was able to bring him all the way home for one last run. The last two batters tested center fielder Evan Truax, who grabbed both from the air to end the game.
The victory for the Bulldogs gives them the District IV Title and first seed into Regional play. Their next game will be May 19, at Castle Rock facing number three Meridian from the combined Districts 1/2/3. The Bulldogs start at 10 a.m. If they win, their next game is at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Hoquiam v. Charles Wright game for a chance to take the trip to Yakima for the season finals May 25-26.