By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Montgomery High’s pitching staff gave up 10 walks on Friday to visiting Sequoia but, against the odds, the free passes didn’t hurt the Vikings as they scratched out a 3-2 win in a pre-season game to remain undefeated (3-0-1) after four games.
Sequoia (0-4) loaded the bases in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings and, remarkably, came away with only two runs.
“Montgomery did a good job of not conceding runs with bases loaded,” said Sequoia coach Corey Uhalde, a 2004 Montgomery graduate who played third base for the Vikings. “It was a fun game for me because I went to Monty and played for coach Haskins.”
With the game tied 2-2 in the sixth inning, Montgomery’s Henry Stelzner led off the Vikings’ winning rally by smashing a double to left-center off Sequoia reliever Jonathan Clifford.
“We had a new pitcher come in and he made a good pitch low (on the Stelzner double),” Uhalde said. “He (Stelzner) did a great job to go down and get it.”
With one out, Stelzner took third base on a passed ball and scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly to right field by Matt Miller.
“Stelzner came through with a big lead-off double in the sixth,” Montgomery coach Dean Haskins said. “It was the offensive lift we had been looking for.”
Montgomery’s Josh Lenney (1-0), who worked 3» innings in relief, closed the door in the seventh inning on the Cherokees. Lenney gave up one hit and two walks while striking out four during his outing.
“Lenney came in and threw strikes,” Haskins said. “We started playing better defense behind him because he was throwing strikes.”
While Montgomery outhit Sequoia 9-2, the Vikings’ walks gave the Cherokees more scoring opportunities. Fortunately for the Vikings, Sequoia was unable to cash in on the Viking hurlers’ charity.
“Sequoia didn’t capitalize on a couple of opportunities, especially early in the game,” Haskins said. “(Giving up) the walks are something we need to improve on.”
Montgomery’s starter, lefty Anthony Price, was given the hook after 1« innings after issuing four walks. Reliever Lucas Buchmann didn’t fare much better finding the plate, walking four in two innings.
“We got guys in scoring position,” Uhalde said. “We have played inconsistently in games all year.”
Montgomery put up a pair of runs in the third to take a 2-0 lead against Sequoia starter Cameron Greenough. Miller (2-2, RBI) led off with a single and Mitchell West followed with a one-out single to left. Miller went to third and West (2-4) legged it to second on the throw to third. Lenney (2-3, 2 RBI) then stroked a single through the infield on the right side to plate Miller and West.
Greenough pitched a strong five innings, striking out five, walking two and allowing only the two runs in the third.
“Montgomery takes advantage of timely situations,” Uhalde said. “Our starter (Greenough) was great today. His curveball was working.”
Sequoia got the two runs back in the fourth after Buchmann walked the first three batters. Lenney came in and limited the damage to two runs on a double by the Cherokees’ Jeremy McIntyre (1-2, 2 RBI).
The Cherokees loaded the bases again in the sixth with two outs, but Clifford hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Stelzner, who retired Clifford at first. Stelzner made an error earlier in the inning and also bobbled a ball that resulted in only one out instead of a tailor-made double-play.
“Stelzner recovered defensively and got the out when we needed it,” Haskins said.
For the Vikings, the win keeps their early momentum rolling.
“The last two years we have gotten off to a slow start so being 3-0-1 is a really good start,” Haskins said. “We are achieving the goals we set for ourselves for early in the season.”