ELMA — They may have been slow to find their batting stroke Thursday. But when Montesano’s Bulldogs started hitting, they never stopped.
Scoring 15 times in the final three innings, the league-leading Bulldogs crushed Elma, 18-0, in an Evergreen 1A League baseball contest at Eagle Field.
Evan Bates and Teegan Zillyett combined for seven hits and seven RBIs to lead the assault for Monte (6-0, 10-1).
Meanwhile, Bulldog pitchers Ben Wills and Trevor Ridgway combined on a one-hitter.
The final score was deceptive, in more ways in one. The Bulldogs, who had been in a mild hitting slump of late, mustered only two hits (both by Bates) off Elma starter Cobey Moore through four innings.
They scratched out three runs in the second inning on Bates’ leadoff single, three walks, an error and Aaron Lano’s fielder’s choice grounder.
It was still 3-0 entering the fifth. Then Matt Plato’s RBI double, a booming opposite-field drive that one-hopped off the right-field fence, seemed to ignite the Bulldogs offensively. They hammered a possibly tiring Moore and two relievers the rest of the way.
Several Monte reserves contributed to a nine-run top of the seventh, with Cyrus Parsons contributing two hits in that inning.
For much of the distance, Montesano’s pitching was more impressive than its hitting. Wills and Ridgway, in fact, came exceptionally close to a no-hitter.
Elma’s Micah Swint lofted a soft fly in front of right fielder Kobe Gallinger in the second inning. Handling the ball on one hop, Gallinger threw to first, but Swint was called safe on a bang-bang play.
A sophomore who was able to consistently throw his curve for strikes, Wills struck out five in his five-inning mound stint.
“We also had a one-hitter yesterday (against Tenino), so our pitchers are throwing real well right now,” Monte coach Mike Osgood said. “That’s kind of the strength of our team. The pitching staff is real deep.”
Elma coach Jim Hill wasn’t discouraged by the loss.
“Like I told the kids, at this point, they’re a better-hitting team than we are,” Hill said. “But our pitchers are throwing well. I’m very proud of the direction we’re headed and (the kids) are working their tails off. It’s a long season and at district everybody is 0-0.”
Cody Robinette made some fine plays defensively at third base for Elma (1-3, 4-6).
The Eagles are back in action Friday at Tenino. Montesano and Elma are scheduled to collide again Tuesday at Vessey Field.
Monte 030 024 9 — 18 16 1
Elma 000 000 0 — 0 1 3
Wills, Ridgway (6) and Trout, P. Plato; Moore, Elliott (6), Johnston (7) and Jacobson.
RBI: Montesano — Zillyett 4, Bates 3, Lano, M. Plato, Karaffa, Farmer 2, Trout, Olsen, Parsons. Four hits: Montesano — Bates. Three hits: Montesano — Zillyett. Two hits: Montesano — Parsons. Doubles: Montesano — M. Plato, Trout.