Frustration built in the Rochester dugout throughout a trying doubleheader. But it came with a sigh of relief by the end.
The Warriors lost the first game of a 2A/1A Evergreen Conference doubleheader, 6-2, to visiting Montesano on Thursday night.
Rochester followed that by stranding 16 baserunners in the second game, but salvaged a split when Hunter Hahn’s bases-loaded walk in the seventh sealed a 5-4 victory.
As the second game began, the Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Bella Phelps brought Jalen Lancaster across with a ground ball. More tellingly, they also left two runners on. In the third, fourth and fifth innings, Rochester left the bases loaded.
In the top of the fourth, Cheyann Bartlett blasted a three-run homer over the fence in left center field to put Montesano ahead. The Bulldogs added a run in the fourth and led 4-1 entering the bottom of the fifth.
“Everyone in the state of Washington knows Montesano,” Rochester coach Jared Lancaster said. “They’re always going to find a way to win.”
Not this time, though.
In the sixth, consecutive singles by Joanie Lancaster, Courtney Baird, Hahn and Phelps produced two runs, drawing the Warriors to within one.
In the seventh, with one out and the bases empty, Jared Lancaster played a hunch, pinch-hitting with freshman Tyla Phothisat — her first varsity plate appearance.
“She’s green,” said Lancaster, “But she’s got a nice bat.”
Phothisat, who admitted she was “really nervous,” drew a five-pitch walk from Montesano ace Sam Stanfield, who struck out 10 in winning the first game.
But as the second game reached crunch time, Montesano never recorded a second out in the inning.
Jalen Lancaster, who earned the pitching win with two innings of hitless relief, moved Phothisat to second with a bloop single to left. Jared Lancaster sent in sophomore Ally Hall as a pinch-runner for Phothisat, and Hall scored when Joanie Lancaster lined a hard single to right.
Baird reached on an error to load the bases, setting the stage for Hahn to a wangle a walk-off walk.
“In a game like that, against a team like Montesano, it’s going to come down to one more error,” Jared Lancaster said. After both teams played errorless ball in the first game, the Bulldogs committed five errors in the second, the Warriors just two.
The split leaves 1A Montesano (9-2, 6-1 in the 2A/1A EvCo) in first place and helps Rochester (9-2, 6-2) stay alive for a possible 2A district playoff berth under the convoluted conditions it needs to meet.
In the first game, which was moved to Rochester after being rained out in Montesano earlier in the week, the Bulldogs batted second and made themselves right at home, scoring once in each of the first three innings.
The Warriors’ hopes briefly rose in the top of the fourth when Jess Girardin crushed a two-run homer over the left-field fence. Montesano added three in the fifth, though, and Rochester had little to smile about until the last moments of the nightcap.
Rochester 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 – 2 3 0
Montesano 1 1 1 3 0 0 X – 6 7 0
WP – Sam Stanfield (10K). LP – Hunter Hahn. R Jess Girardin 1-2 (HR, 2RBI). M– Alyssa Gustafson 1-3 (2 RBI). Josie Toyra 2-3 (RBI)
Montesano 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 – 4 6 5
Rochester 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 - 5 11 2
WP – Jalen Lancaster 2IP (0 H, O BB, 1 K). LP – Stanfield (7K). M – Cheyann Bartlett 1-3 (HR, 3 RBI), Toyra 1-3 (2B). R – Joanie Lancaster 3-3 (RBI, Sac), Courtney Baird 2-4, Bella Phelps 2-3.