MONTESANO — If there is one word that sums up the Montesano High School baseball team’s approach at the plate in Thursday’s Senior Night victory over the visiting Rainier Mountaineers it would be ‘discipline.’
Up and down the lineup, Monte hitters worked deep into counts, rarely swung at pitches out of the zone and capitalized on every Rainier mistake to earn a 15-4 mercy-rule victory at Vessey Field and extend its winning streak to an impressive 12 games.
“I’ve played with all these boys my whole life, and they’re all very smart,” said Bulldogs senior Matt Plato, who ended the game with a two-run RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning. “Our whole lineup is deep and they are all just baseball smart.”
To Plato’s point, Monte (13-1 overall, 8-0 Evergreen 1A) led 6-2 through three innings though they had just one base hit off Mountaineers starter Carson Edminster.
But the Bulldogs made Rainier pay for every mistake they made. Monte manufactured runs on multiple pass balls and wild pitches while working six walks and forcing the Mountaineers defense into committing four errors.
“That’s kind of been our MO all year,” Monte head coach Mike Osgood said. “We’re a deep club and when teams make mistakes we’ve been able to capitalize on that. We put pressure on them and our guys just do their thing at the plate.”
It didn’t take long for Montesano to get to work on Thursday, as they tied the game without a base hit in the bottom of the first. Edminster plunked both Monte leadoff hitter Teegan Zillyett and Braden Dohrmann with pitches. After the freshman right-hander struck out Plato looking, he walked three consecutive Bulldog batters to make it a 2-2 ballgame.
Monte continued to take full advantage of Rainier’s miscues an inning later, scoring three runs in the frame while only collecting one hit — an RBI double off the bat of Dorhmann.
Rainier (11-6, 10-4 Central 2B) climbed back in the game with two runs in the top of the fourth inning off Monte starter Trevor Ridgway, who after a shaky first inning retired eight straight batters before walking Levi Reise. Maceyo Brown plated Reise and teammate Ricky Cruse with a two-run single to make it a 6-4 game. Ridgway escaped any further damage when he snared a hard come-backer off the bat of Trevin Pericic and threw to Payson Parker at first to record the out and end the threat.
That was as close as Rainier would get as the Bulldogs scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth, tacked on a run in the fifth, and put the game away with a five-run sixth capped by Plato’s double that scored Cyrus Parsons and Dohrmann.
“We’ve always preached to play smart and aggressive,” Plato said of Monte’s ability to lay off pitches outside the zone. “All year, we’ve been very disciplined. We get into the pitcher’s head and that’s when things start to fall apart. That’s kind of our specialty. We’ve always been real smart at the plate.”
Ridgway picked up the win for Monte, allowing three hits while striking out three to no walks over his four innings pitched.
Carson Klinger relieved Ridgway and tallied three strikeouts without giving up a hit in two scoreless innings of work.
With a deep, disciplined offense that poses a daunting threat to opposing pitching staffs, the Bulldogs feel their ceiling is a tall one.
“We’re a young team, but a state championship is not out of the equation,” Plato said. “I think this team has what it takes and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
Montesano hosts league-rival Hoquiam at 4 p.m. on Tuesday followed by a 4 p.m. start time in Hoquiam on Wednesday. They close out the regular season in Forks at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Rainier 200 200 — 4 3 4
Montesano 231 315 — 15 8 1
WP — Ridgway (4 IP, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB); LP — Edminster (6 IP, 8 H, 3 K, 6 BB)
Leading Hitters: M — Plato (2-3, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI), Dohrman (2-4, 2B, 4 R), R — Brown (1-3, 2 RBI)