CASTLE ROCK — The Woodland baseball team learned a time-old baseball lesson the hard way that you can’t give extra outs to a good team.
The good news for the Beavers is that they’ll likely get a chance to apply that lesson in the future.
Two-out errors, including a key one in the fifth inning, gave life to Montesano rallies and helped the Bulldogs beat Woodland 9-1 Saturday in the Class 1A regional at Castle Rock High School.
The win avenged a loss by Montesano against Woodland in last week’s district tournament.
“I think if you looked back at last week, you’ll see we won because we hit a little better than (Montesano), we pitched a little better and played better defense,” Woodland coach Stephen Short said. “Today, they did those things better, and that’s why they deserved to win.”
Although the lopsided final score doesn’t show it, the game looked for four innings as if it might be decided on the game’s final play. Montesano’s Layne Bruner and Woodland’s Trevor Huddleston matched each other pitch for pitch through four innings, both allowing one run on two hits.
But in the fifth, the Bulldogs put two runners on with two walks. With two outs, Tucker Ibabao loaded the bases when his swinging bunt just inside the third-base line resulted in an infield single.
Huddleston appeared to pitch himself out of the jam by getting Elliot Mendenhall to hit an infield grounder. However, the throw to first was off the mark and two runs scored. Bruner followed by crushing a pitch deep over the right-field wall for a 6-1 lead.
“Trevor really pitched well enough to win,” Short said. “He hung one pitch to Bruner that he wishes he had back, and that came after we made a two-out mistake.”
From there, the game belonged to Bruner, who has signed to play at Washington State next season. Bruner struck out nine and only allowed the Beavers to hit two balls out of the infield. All four hits he allowed were infield hits.
“I think Bruner was the difference maker,” Short said. “You don’t go to WSU if you’re just some run-of-the-mill guy.”
The loss ended a season for a Woodland team that finished 19-6 and won a district title, a far cry from the team that languished at the bottom of the league standings a couple of years ago.
“We have most of our team coming back next year, and that’s what I told the guys,” Short said. “We going to be in position to get here again next year and win it.”
For seniors like Cy Whitmire and Bryce McQuivey, the 2013 season was the payoff for years of work to help build Woodland into a winner.
“It hurts right now,” said McQuivey, whose grand slam capped a six-run third inning in a 10-6 win over Vashon Island in Saturday’s opening game for the Beavers. “But I’m sure I can look back years from now and be proud of how we reached the regional finals and competed with one of the best teams in the state.”