Both Montesano and Hoquiam kicked off the 1A District IV Tournament with decisive victories on Monday to advance to the winner’s bracket.
Hoquiam 10, King’s Way Christian 4
Kyle Larsen battled through some-high stress innings and helped his own cause at the plate in Hoquiam’s 10-4 win over King’s Way Christian on Monday at Olympic Stadium.
Larsen gave up a run in the top of the first but made up for it with a single that plated two runs to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead after one inning.
Larsen came through with another clutch at-bat in the third inning where his single up the middle drove home Liam Odell and Troy McMinn to put Hoquiam (13-7 overall) up 4-2 after three innings.
King’s Way Christian (8-12) closed the gap to 6-3 in the fifth inning when Ethan Knight hit a single that bounced off of second base, allowing Brett Fulk to score.
Larsen, who threw 99 pitches in 4 2/3 innings of work, said that he trusted his teammates to make plays behind him when the Knights were threatening to come back.
“I knew my team would come through,” he said. “It really helped me that they were there to support and help me get the win.”
Larsen eventually exited the game in the fifth inning after a double and two walks had allowed KWC to close the gap to 4-3.
Hoquiam went to reliever Jackson Folkers, who stopped the bleeding in the fifth inning and pitched a scoreless sixth.
Though he didn’t make it deep into the ballgame, Hoquiam head coach Steve Jump said he was impressed with how Larsen fought through some difficult situations.
“He’s been really good all season and I think the kids play with a lot of confidence when he’s on the mound,” Jump said. “He makes things interesting. He’ll come back from a 3-0 count, you never feel like he’s out of it. He did what we needed him to do to get us a win.”
The game didn’t stay close for long as the Grizzlies plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Folkers, who hit the ball hard directly at outfielders in his previous two at-bats, finally found a gap in the fifth to drive in two runs and put Hoquiam up 8-3.
Folkers came around to score later in the inning and Hoquiam added an insurance run in the sixth to round out the scoring.
Jump said he’s starting to see his team hit the way he hoped it would all season.
“I really feel good about our hitting right now. We had one called strike out and very few strikeouts overall,” he said. “We’re putting the ball in play and making the defense work.”
Montesano 15, Castle Rock 2
Montesano experienced an offensive explosion in the second inning, putting up nine runs on its way to a 15-2 blowout victory over Castle Rock on Monday at Olympic Stadium.
Montesano (19-2 overall) batted around in the second frame, scoring nine runs. Braden Dohrmann broke the seal on the inning with a two-run single followed by an RBI double from Aaron Lano that put the Bulldogs up 3-0.
Montesano went on to score six more runs in the second, including five runs after Castle Rock (7-13) recorded two outs.
Lano said his team wanted to jump on the Rockets early to put pressure on the lower-seeded team.
“The plan was to come out and be aggressive,” he said. “I just wanted to get as many hits as I could, help the team out and get on base so they could do their job and score me.”
Montesano’s pitching cruised as Ben Wills started the game by striking out the side in the first.
Wills pitched two shutout innings before he was pulled in favor of Payson Parker.
Montesano head coach Mike Osgood said the coaching staff discussed letting Wills pitch deeper into the game, but decided to save his arm for Tuesday’s matchup.
“We debated it because he could have kept going and won the whole game for us really easily,” he said. “Wills’ pitch count ended up in the mid-20s and Evan Bates will start tomorrow, but if he gets in trouble Ben can come in for relief.”
The Bulldogs put up another crooked number in the fourth inning with a six-run rally that was highlighted by a two-run double from Bates.