One big inning was sufficient for Montesano to prevail in a long-awaited league baseball opener.
Teegan Zillyett’s three-run double highlighted a five-run second inning that lifted the Bulldogs past Hoquiam, 6-2, in an Evergreen 1A League contest on March 31 at Vessey Field.
Montesano’s rust from weather-related idleness showed up primarily in the field. The Bulldogs (1-0, 1-2) were guilty of six errors (including catcher’s interference), a development that first-year head coach Mike Osgood said should be corrected with more activity.
There was nothing wrong, however, with Monte’s hitting. The Bulldogs pounded out 10 hits — eight of those coming in the first two innings.
“That was our best approach at the plate all year,” Osgood reflected. “To get a win against this club feels good. They’re a good solid team.”
State finalists in each of the last two years, the Grizzlies (0-1, 1-3) had baserunners in five innings. But they were unable to capitalize on Monte’s miscues, as Bulldog pitchers Nate Kloempken and Nick Chapman repeatedly worked out of jams. Hoquiam stranded 11 runners.
Grizzly coach Steve Jump said his hitters were attempting to lift the ball too frequently instead of relying on line drives and hard grounders.
“We had way too many pop-ups that went nowhere,” he grumbled.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the first inning when Matt Plato’s single drove in Chapman, who had walked and advanced on Sawyer Rhoden’s single.
The critical frame, however, was the second. The Bulldogs strung together six hits to knock out Grizzly starting pitcher Jerod Steen.
Dakoyta Reninger led off with an infield hit, but dislocated his shoulder diving into first base and was replaced by pinch-runner Noah Quinn. Kobe Gallinger followed with a single to center. When the Grizzlies threw to third too late on Carson Klinger’s bunt, the Bulldogs had the bases loaded with none out.
Zillyett promptly cleared the sacks by lining a double into the right-centerfield gap to make it 4-0.
Rhoden’s and Evan Bates’ consecutive one-out singles finished Steen. Plato greeted reliever Brody Bennett with an RBI single to complete the scoring.
Working out of a bases-loaded predicament in the second, the hard-throwing Kloempken kept the Grizzlies in check until the fifth.
Following Steen’s one-out single and a throwing error, Garrett Bradley and Walker Dunn delivered consecutive RBI singles.
Kloempken, however, ended the threat with a pair of strikeouts. Chapman finished up by allowing only one hit in two scoreless innings.
Bennett pitched magnificently in relief for Hoquiam, surrendering only three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless frames.
“He’s a ground-ball, pop-up kind of kid. He gets outs for you,” Jump said. “When he was out there, they didn’t threaten.”
Montesano is scheduled to host Rochester in a non-leaguer April 8. The Grizzlies will be idle during spring break and will return to action April 10 at home against Elma.
Hoquiam 000 020 0 — 2 6 1 Montesano 150 000 x — 6 10 6
Steen, Bennett (2) and Folkers; Kloempken, Chapman (6) and Rhoden.
RBI: Hoquiam — Bradley, Dunn. Montesano — Zillyett 3, Rhoden, Plato 2. Two hits: Hoquiam — McAllister, Bradley. Montesano — Rhoden, Bates, Plato, Gallinger. Doubles: Montesano — Zillyett.
Winning pitcher — Kloempken (walked none; struck out seven). Losing pitcher — Steen (walked one; struck out one).