Underdog Timberline makes 5A baseball state final

Wolves continue late-season prowess with a victory over Highland.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comMay 18, 2013 

— The unlikely district championship wasn't enough.

Neither is the even-more-unlikely berth in the 5A baseball state championship game.

For the Timberline High Wolves, it's state championship or bust.

They'll face Coeur d'Alene at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"We've been working for this our whole season and it feels great, but at the same time, that's our goal (Saturday) - to walk out as champs," junior second baseman Michael Stefanic said. "… We've just got to go out and play well, play our game and not get caught up in the moment."

The Wolves (16-11) will try to extend District Three's five-year reign in 5A baseball. They won the 2010 title and would be the first team with two trophies during that stretch.

The Vikings (21-5), meanwhile, are the first team from outside the Treasure Valley to reach the championship game since Lake City in 2008.

Coeur d'Alene survived a nutty nightcap Friday, beating Madison 20-13 in a game it trailed 11-5 after two innings.

The Vikings recorded 20 hits - including six doubles and three triples - to overcome some sloppy outfield defense. Devin Kluss didn't survive the first inning as the starting pitcher but was 4-for-6 with four runs scored and two RBIs at the plate. Sean Sutton also stroked four hits.

"I guess we play gorilla baseball," said Coeur d'Alene coach Nick Rook, whose team scored 25 runs and erased a seven-run deficit in its district championship game. "We hit like gorillas, and we play defense like gorillas. But obviously I'm extremely proud of the program - of the kids battling back."

Timberline beat Highland 5-3 in the first semifinal. The Rams (23-4) own the best record in the tournament, but the Wolves now have won all five of their postseason games and 12 of their past 15 during a late-season surge.

Senior Tommy Barker smacked a two-run double in the first inning and did not allow a walk in a complete-game victory on the mound.

"Any time in baseball, especially when you're dealing in the high school game … you get that confidence going a little bit (with an early lead) and believe in yourselves," Timberline coach Larry Price said. "Tommy got the big hit and he kept them off-balance all night on the mound, and he just did a phenomenal job."

Barker's double came with two outs and runners on first and third - giving the Wolves a 3-0 lead.

Highland pulled within 3-2 in the fifth, but Timberline scored two runs on a two-out error in the bottom of the fifth to blow it open.

The Wolves finished with one error but made several nice plays defensively, including a double play on the final play of the game.

"The beginning of the year, we had a little bit of trouble (defensively)," Barker said. "We've put more work in than any other team, I'm confident in that, and it's helped a lot."

Timberline and Coeur d'Alene haven't met recently in a high school game, so they're relative strangers.

Still, Barker knows what to expect.

"Hard-fought baseball," he said. "It's going to be a good one."


The Grizzlies (24-5) moved into the consolation final behind Josh Gasser's three-hit shutout. Mason Smith was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Boise finished at 15-12.


Austin Jackson smacked a two-run single in the Mustangs' seven-run first inning and an RBI single in their three-run fourth. Eagle (18-9) will play Rocky in the consolation final.

For Borah (17-10), Montana Bilger went 2-for-2 and drove in three runs. He was 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and four RBIs in the tournament.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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