The story just kept getting better. A historic World Series that went five, six, seven games.
A finale that went eight, nine, 10 innings.
And a final frame that featured two Hart High graduates on the mound.
One of them the unflappable Mike Montgomery, standing alone at Progressive Field in Cleveland early Thursday morning, arms raised above his head, celebrating the final out of the Cubs’ first World Series crown since 1908.
It was the only out Montgomery recorded for the only save of his major league career, preserving a one-run lead with a man aboard in an 8-7 win.
“How about that ending?” said Hart baseball coach Jim Ozella.
During the final sequence, Ozella said he leapt off his couch, hollering along with his wife, Kate, as their dog jumped around in confused excitement.
The longtime Hart coach made it to Wrigley Field to see Montgomery pitch 2/3’s of an inning Friday in Game 3. He talked to Montgomery afterward.
“He felt good,” Ozella said.
Montgomery felt better as he watched third baseman Kris Bryant field Michael Martinez’s slow chopper and fire it across to Anthony Rizzo as Fox broadcaster Joe Buck howled, “The Cubs win the World Series.”
Chicago sprinted together in the infield, with Montgomery right in the middle of it, seemingly a million miles from where he started the season.
After the Mariners (Montgomery’s third organization) traded him to Chicago in July, he worked his way into manager Joe Maddon’s trust by posting a 2.82 ERA in 17 appearances down the stretch and proving dependable still as summer turned to fall.
The 27-year-old lefty appeared five times in a World Series featuring franchises that hadn’t won a title in a combined 176 years. He allowed one run.
The Fall Classic was all the more memorable for Santa Clarita Valley residents because it featured not one, but two local products.
Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer — who rescued his team from more damage in a bases-loaded, 10th-inning jam in Game 7 — and Montgomery were teammates at Hart in 2007 and 2008. They carried on a rivalry that drew national media coverage at the beginning of the World Series.
“They were just really competitive with each other,” Casey McCarthy, a teammate of Bauer’s and Montgomery’s at Hart, said last year when Montgomery made the majors with Seattle. “I think each one wanted to out do the other one.”
Eight years later, they were the final two pitchers in a game that won’t soon be forgotten.
“This is unbelievable for both these kids,” Ozella said. “With Mike’s situation, here’s a guy who has been dumped three times by teams. His determination to pitch in the big leagues never left him. He always believed in himself.”
He made a once-woebegone franchise believe, too.