The 5A baseball state title will come down to the defending state champs and this years best team precisely the match-up both teams were expecting.
Southern Idaho Conference rivals Eagle, the 2011 state champ, and 26-1 Rocky Mountain meet Saturday night at Memorial Stadium for the 5A crown.
I figured wed see Eagle in the end, Rocky Mountain coach Jake Taylor said after his teams 8-3 come-from-behind victory against Mountain View. Weve got great respect for them and what they do. Itll be a great atmosphere, a great competition and hopefully a real good high school game.
Eagle dispatched Timberline 7-3 in Fridays first semifinal, advancing to the title game for the second straight season with a revamped roster.
Theyre a complete ball club, Eagle coach Frank Wright said. They have three guys that throw strikes and keep them in games. Theyre good defensively and they hit the ball and they can score runs. Theyre just a polished ball club.
Senior left-hander Blake Thoren will start the championship game for the Grizzlies, who are seeking their first state title in just their fourth season as a school. Eagle (19-7) will counter with junior left-hander Darrion Simons. Neither pitcher has thrown in the first two days of the state tournament.
Rocky Mountain won both regular-season meetings this year.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 8, MOUNTAIN VIEW 3
For the second straight night, Rocky Mountain fell behind early in the state tournament. For the second straight night, the Grizzlies rallied.
This time, however, against SIC rival Mountain View (14-13) it wasnt easy. Mountain View led 3-0 after three innings Friday night.
They stuck it to us in the first couple innings and knocked us on our heels real fast, Taylor said. I was proud of our kids, the way we came back and showed some resiliency.
Pitcher Bryce Feist induced an inning-ending double play in the third inning to keep the game in and then delivered a game-tying single in the fourth inning for Rocky.
Feists opposite-field single plated two runs and catcher Luke Holloway scored on a wild pitch immediately after to give the Grizzlies a lead they would not relinquish.
We just stress the work that we put in all year. We dont press or anything. We just expect that were going to come out on top, said Feist, who threw a complete game and had three RBIs. We put in a lot of hours. We work hard every day. If I dont get it done, I can trust the guy behind me to get it done.
Rocky scored four in the fourth inning and four more in the sixth to put the game away.
We just stick with it, Taylor said. We do have some confidence.
EAGLE 7, TIMBERLINE 3
Senior Skyler Souza showed off his glove, of all things, in his complete-game, five-hitter against Timberline. Souza, who starts at shortstop when he is not on the mound, made four stellar fielding plays in the Mustangs victory.
Souza ended three innings with plays on the mound, including a terrific snag in the sixth inning that ended Timberlines rally with runners on second and third.
I took away a lot of hits, said Souza, who closed out Eagles state championship victory last year. The shortstop probably would have made those, but some of those would have gone up the middle.
Souzas glove work was part of a strong defensive effort for Eagle, which has gotten better in the field and at the plate as the season has gotten longer.
We tell the kids, its not what happens early on. Its how you finish, Wright said. Were playing our best baseball right now.
Senior catcher Ben Millick delivered the biggest hit for the Mustangs a two-run double in the second inning. Millick had two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs in the victory.
Hes a big-hit kid. He makes big plays in big situations, Wright said. Its not a fluke. Hes done it over and over again.
Millick, who was called up for the state tournament last season and served as the bullpen catcher, is enjoying the ride as a key piece of the lineup this year.
I get way more excited, he said with a big grin.
Craig Jorgensens two-run double in the sixth inning pulled Timberline (18-8) to within 6-3 before Souza got out of the inning with a strikeout and his terrific defensive play.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444