Hoquiam’s Carron Blood had herself a whale of a game.
The Grizzlies junior belted two home runs and pitched a complete game in leading Hoquiam to a 7-4 victory over Montesano in a 1A Evergreen League matchup on Friday, April 1, at Dick Tagman Field in Montesano.
Blood got things off to a great start for the Grizzlies, which were looking to take the season series with a win over the Bulldogs. Blood whacked Monte starter Riley Timmons’ 1-1 pitch over the left field fence for a three-run home run in the top of the first inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Montesano catcher Ali Parkin put on a power display of her own when she smashed a Blood pitch over the left-center field fence for a two-run shot.
Hoquiam (4-3 overall, 2-2 1A Evergreen) would take advantage of uncharacteristic Montesano miscues during the game, including scoring two runs on a two-out error off a fly ball in the second inning.
In the third, the Grizzlies added an insurance run on Kayte Sauer’s one out RBI single, putting Hoquiam up 6-2.
Montesano (2-4, 1-2) had a chance to cut into the deficit the following half-inning, but Montesano runners were picked off at first and, later in the inning, at third base. With Montesano’s Reghann Fairbairn at second and Jordan Karr at first with two outs, Kylee Fairbairn hit a grounder back to Blood, who stumbled on the turf and was unable to make a play at first. Reghann Fairbairn aggressively rounded third and headed for home on the play, but was cut down at the plate by Blood, ending the Montesano rally.
The Bulldogs scratched across runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull to within 6-4, but Blood’s bat provided another emphatic statement, blasting a solo home run over the left-field fence to leadoff the seventh inning.
“At first I thought, ‘Oh, that’s going far. It’s going farther. Oh, that’s outta here,’” Blood said of her second dinger of the day. “Then I just kept running the bases. I was so happy.”
With two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Blood struck out Alyssa Maldonado and got Madi Campbell to fly out to secure the 7-4 win and take two of three games off the Bulldogs this season.
After the game, Blood was quick to credit her teammates.
“I wouldn’t have done this without my teammates,” she said. “They supported me when I was down. They backed me up on fly balls and grounders. … I think we got a lot closer and a lot better this game. … Our confidence went up crazy this game.”
Blood explained the confidence of her teammates, and her confidence in them, has improved as the Grizzlies begin to play better defense.
“They’re getting better and I can trust them if (opposing batters) hit it,” she said. “If they hit it, I can trust them to try their hardest to catch the ball or get to a grounder. They know what they are doing and it makes me so proud. I feel so proud for them.”
Hoquiam committed eight errors in splitting a double header with the Bulldogs earlier in the week. The Grizzlies cut that down to three errors on Friday.
“This was Carron’s game,” said Hoquiam head coach Keith Reynvaan, who added the Hoquiam coaching staff has been working with Blood on gaining confidence and believing in her abilities. “She gets better and better every game. … She showed (confidence) tonight.”
All four Monte runs against Blood were earned, as the junior right-hander allowed 10 hits with five strikeouts and two walks in the game.
Timmons took the loss for Montesano, allowing five runs — three earned — on three hits, two walks and a strikeout in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
Reghann Fairbairn pitched the final 5 1/3 innings for Monte, allowing two runs — one earned — on five hits.
Montesano’s offense had five extra-base hits in the game, with Addi Kersker, Alyssa Maldonado, Campbell and Reghann Fairbairn hitting doubles in addition to Parkin’s home run.
Hoquiam’s offense got multi-hit games from leadoff hitter Graci Bonney-Spradlin (2-4, R), Sauer (2-4, RBI) and Blood (2-3, 2 HR, 2R, 4RBIs).
While a victory over their league rival in Montesano territory felt good for the Grizzlies, they acknowledged there is much work ahead of them and fully expect Monte to be there in the end.
“It feels really exciting because we haven’t beat them in years, but it makes me want to work harder because (the season) isn’t over yet and there are going to be better teams and (Montesano) is going to get better too,” Blood said of the win. “So I have to pitch really good and we’re all going to have to practice hard every day.”
“We feel fortunate to beat Monte. They set the standard out here,” Reynvaan said. “I thought we played a complete game. That was the best game we played all year. … When it comes down to crunch time, (Montesano) will be ready. … Believe me, (Montesano head coach) Pat (Pace) will have them going by the end.”
Montesano will host Lakeside (9 Mile) at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Hoquiam will play at Elma in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12.
Hoquiam 321 000 1 — 7 8 3
Montesano 200 011 0 — 4 10 2
Hoquiam — Blood (2-3, 2 HR, 2R, 4RBI), Bonney-Spradlin (2-4, R), Sauer (2-4, RBI), Prosch (1-4), Deitrick (1-3, R). WP — Blood (7 IP, 10H, 4ER, 5K, 2BB).
Montesano — Parkin (2-3, HR, R, 2RBI), Kersker (2-2, 2B, R), Wisdom (1-2, R), R. Fairbairn (1-4, 2B); K. Fairbairn (1-4), Maldonado (1-3, 2B, RBI), Campbell (1-4, 2B), Robinson (1-3, R). LP — Timmons (1.2 IP, 3H, 5R, 3ER, K, 2BB).