Montesano didn’t schedule it, but it picked the wrong time to go up against a fireball ace pitcher on May 20.
In the Region III 1A tournament, the Bulldogs were unable to solve Overlake senior ace Ryan Long and were eliminated, 5-0, at Castle Rock High School.
Overlake moved into the regional title game, where it couldn’t hold off a King’s Way Christian rally in a 6-5 loss. Montesano’s season ended at 15-6.
“That’s one of the best pitchers you’ll find at this level,” Montesano head coach Mike Osgood said of Long. “He controls the game. He works fast. He hit his spots. He’s a true pitcher. They got some key hits that helped them. At this level, we made a few mistakes in the field and they took advantage of them.”
Throughout the regular season, Montesano and other Evergreen 1A League teams never saw a dominant, fireball pitcher on the mound against them. The Bulldogs had their ace, junior Nate Kloempken, on the mound, but Long was just too overpowering.
After Teegan Zillyett got a one-out single in the top of the first inning, he added a two-out single in the sixth inning. Those hits were the only ones Montesano could get against Long, who will play baseball next season at NCAA Division III Pomona Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
Long struck out 11 and walked one in a complete-game, two-hit effort. Kloempken wasn’t bad either, striking out 10 and walking three in 5 2/3 innings of work.
“I thought (Nate) pitched well enough to win,” Osgood said. “He just ran into someone who was just as good today.”
The Owls struck in the bottom of the first when Long hit a sacrifice fly to right field for a 1-0 lead. They added three runs in the fourth, with an RBI single from Zach Foster and Ryan Eldridge to go with a run scored on a wild pitch, for a 4-0 lead.
A fifth run came home in the fifth, an RBI single by Neal Sivadas, was enough for Overlake.
For Montesano, it’ll lose four seniors Sawyer Rhodes, Nick Chapman, Noah Quinn and Austin Peterson next season, but return an experienced group of sophomores and juniors to the program.
“I’m really proud of this group and what they accomplished this season,” Osgood said. “We were undefeated in league. Our four seniors, you have to love those guys. I’m proud to have had the chance to coach them this year. Now, we’ll just get ready for next season. The future is bright here.”
Montesano 000 000 0 — 0 2 1 Overlake 100 310 x — 5 7 2
Kloempken, Reninger (6) and Rhoden; Long and Eldridge.
RBI: Overlake — Long, N. Sivadas, Foster, Eldridge. Two hits: Montesano — Zillyett. Overlake — Dudunakis, N. Sivasas, Eldridge.
Winning pitcher — Long (11 strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Kloempken (10 strikeouts, three walks).