Nobody ever said winning a championship was easy. A group of Montesano Little Leaguers know this all too well.
Playing in the 8-10 year-old division, Monte battled through the loser’s bracket after suffering an early loss in the double-elimination District 3 Tournament to win the district title on Friday at Willapa Harbor Little League.
Monte began the six-team tourney in grand fashion, routing Capitol, 24-9, in three innings on Saturday, but Montesano faltered in Sunday’s game two, falling to Centralia, 5-2, to face a win-or-go-home situation for the remainder of the tournament.
Montesano responded by rolling through the loser’s bracket. Monte eliminated Larch Mountain, 9-0, behind a strong pitching effort from Caden Grubb, who threw just 50 pitches over five innings of work on Monday.
The all-stars then took out host Willapa Harbor by a score of 5-0 on Tuesday. Colton Grubb and Ryder Creamer each tossed three scoreless innings in the victory.
Montesano then faced arguably its toughest test of the tournament when they faced Chehalis on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the championship round, and the loser being eliminated from the tourney.
Tied at 7-7 in the sixth inning, the Monte all-stars got a leadoff double from Kolsen Hendrickson and later cashed in the run when Hendrickson scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tarek Gunter to earn an 8-7 victory.
Max Peterson had a two-run single and Hendrickson tallied three hits in the game.
Monte then faced an undefeated Centralia in the championship round, where it needed to beat Centralia twice to win the district title. Having not lost a game in the tournament to that point, Centralia needed only one win over Montesano to claim the crown.
Monte trailed 4-2 in the sixth inning of Thursday’s first game of the title round. Facing elimination, Colton Grubb stepped to the plate and belted a bases-loaded triple to give Monte a lead. Montesano scored four runs in the frame and eventually took game one, 6-4.
In Friday’s winner-take-all championship game, Montesano’s offense erupted. Every player on Monte’s roster collected at least one hit as they scored 20 runs in a 20-8 drubbing over Centralia to win the District 3 title and advance to the state championship tournament.
“Wow! What a great bunch of kids,” said Montesano head coach Steve Bove.
Montesano takes on District 8 champion North Bothell in its opening-round game of the 13-team state championship tournament at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Lynnwood.