Hoquiam drew first blood in the race for 1A Evergreen League supremacy with a 3-2 win over Montesano on Tuesday at Montesano High School.
The Grizzlies (5-2 overall, 1-0 1A Evergreen) got a solid pitching performance from senior starter Carron Blood, timely hitting and some impressive defense to pick up the key league-opening victory.
Hoquiam took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when senior shortstop Graci Bonney-Spradlin doubled off Montesano starter Riley Timmons, driving in center fielder Chloe Dietrick with the game’s first run.
Montesano (3-2, 0-1) responded in the bottom half of the inning when a throwing error allowed Addi Potts to advance all the way to third base. Two batters later, right fielder Liv Robinson drove in Potts with a fielder’s choice ground out to knot the game up at 1-1.
The Bulldogs would take a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Potts reached third again in a near carbon copy of the aforementioned error in the bottom of the third. Kennedy Hatton then singled with two outs to plate Potts.
With one out and nobody on in the top of the sixth, Hoquiam clean-up hitter Faith Prosch stepped to the plate and sent Timmons’ 1-2 pitch deep over the right-center field fence for a solo home run, tying the game at 2-2.
“As soon as she hit it, I was opening the gate because I knew it was over (the fence),” Bonney-Spradlin said of Prosch’s blast. “As soon as she hits her home runs I know they are going out.”
“I had two strikes, so I had to have confidence and know that I’m a good hitter and I’m going to hit this ball right here,” Prosch said. “I was just trying to get it in play and just get a base hit. It hit the sweet spot and I could feel it off the bat. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s going to be a good hit.’ I was excited that it made the team excited. It gets them going.”
Hoquiam’s Ashlinn Cady followed with a double but was stranded at second after Timmons induced two straight ground outs to end the threat.
In the seventh, Hoquiam’s Katie Sauer led off with a pinch-hit single and Lexi LaBounty followed with a walk, putting runners on first and second with no outs and chasing Timmons from the circle.
Monte reliever Grace Gooding entered and got the hot-hitting Bonney-Spradlin on a strikeout before hitting second baseman Ella Folkers with a pitch to load the bases.
Blood then helped her own cause by sending a fly ball to right deep enough to score pinch-runner DeVona Sansaver with the go-ahead run.
Blood made sure the lead stuck, retiring Monte 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory. The Grizzlies ace right-hander allowed no earned runs on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
“We hit the ball hard, but Carron did a great job of mixing things up and came inside on us against right-handers,” Montesano head coach Pat Pace said. “When we were thinking so aggressive at the plate, she was able to throw some change-ups at us first pitch and we went after them instead of letting them go. That’s the lack of experience right there and that’s going to come.”
“I think Carron pitched a great game,” Bonney-Spradlin said. “Some of their best hitters she was able to strikeout and I think our defense was there to back her up.”
Aside from the three errors, Hoquiam’s defense made the plays behind her. Bonney-Spradlin made an athletic tag on a seemingly errant throw up the line to retire Monte’s Jordan Karr on a steal attempt in the third inning. Sansaver did her best Willie Mays impression by making a running, over-the-shoulder catch to rob Alisyn Parkin of a home run in the sixth followed by an on-the-run basket catch in the seventh.
“This was a team victory,” Hoquiam head coach Keith Reynvaan said. “You cannot make mistakes against (Montesano) because they will take advantage of them. Their speed kills and they are loaded with speed out there. But our defense and Carron kept them off the bases.”
Timmons took the hard-luck loss, allowing three earned runs on six hits, three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings pitched.
“Riley knows that their top four batters are tough outs,” Pace said of his starter. “I thought she had great composure in the circle.”
Monte’s defense also helped their ace out of jams, including a key double play with two on and two out in the top of the second.
“I thought it was a good game on both sides,” Pace said, noting how Hoquiam’s senior experience was a key factor. “Those five seniors kind of helped things out a little bit more, playing under pressure. We’re getting better and I think the next game is going to be very exciting when we play each other.”
“This was a great start to league,” Bonney-Spradlin said. “We always come into Monte with a lot of energy and they are always our biggest competitor. So beating Monte is just so exciting.”
“It’s a big win for us,” Prosch said. “After this, hopefully we can keep our winning streak going. It really makes us feel good when we beat a good program like this.”
Hoquiam hosts Eatonville at 4 p.m. on Thursday at John Gable Park.
Montesano faces Lynden Christian in a non-league matchup scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday in Montesano.
Hoquiam 001 001 1 – 3 6 3
Montesano 001 010 0 – 2 3 2
WP: Blood (7 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 K, BB). LP: Timmons (6 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 8 K, 3 BB).
Leading hitters: Hoquiam – Bonney-Spradlin (2-4, 2B, RBI); Cady (2-4, 2 2B); Prosch (1-3, HR, R, RBI); K. Sauer (1-1); Blood (0-2, RBI). Montesano – Robinson (1-3, RBI); Karr (1-3); Hatton (1-2, RBI).