Capital takes first place in 5A SIC

Pitcher Sam Wong leads the Eagles to a crucial home win over the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies.

rroberts@idahostatesman.comApril 17, 2014 

After Sam Wong walked Devyn Christian at the start of the seventh inning to bring up the top of Rocky Mountain's batting order, Capital coach Jerry Hollow made a trip to the mound to speak with his senior pitcher.

It turned out to be just the pep talk the 6-foot-4 lefty needed to close out the inning and secure Capital's 3-2 victory Wednesday in a matchup of first-place baseball teams in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference.

"He's been solid for us all year," Hollow said of Wong. "I thought he got behind the hitters a little bit early, but he gutted it out and just grinded it out.

"It was one of those games where he didn't have his best stuff, but he was able to find ways to get outs."

Wong didn't have to be perfect with the support he had behind him.

Rocky's next batter in the seventh reached on a fielder's choice, but the Eagles turned a double play when Jarett Thoren flied out to center fielder Garret Pearson, who threw a bullet to Tyler Hollow at second base to tag out Isaiah Johnson.

"We had our starting pitcher for Friday warming up in the bullpen," said Wong, who surrendered three hits and two runs for the complete-game win. "I didn't really want him to go out because that kind of puts us in jeopardy for Friday, so it was pretty big."

Capital (12-3, 11-2) moves into sole possession of first place in the 5A SIC. The top two teams from the regular season advance to the state tournament.

"We'll enjoy it for a few minutes here, then turn the page and tomorrow's a new day," coach Hollow said.

Rocky Mountain (12-5, 10-3) hosts the second game of the series at 6 p.m. Friday, with a chance to knot the top of the standings once again.

"It was two great teams tonight competing," Rocky Mountain coach Jake Taylor said. "It was a fun game to be a part of, we just came up a run short."

Capital scored first, getting a triple from Pearson in the second inning and scoring on senior Alex Cloninger's two-out grounder to the right field gap.

Rocky responded for a 2-1 lead in the top of the third on a pair of sacrifice flies to center field by juniors JT Strickler and Ryan Beard.

Cloninger stayed hot in his next at bat in the fourth, sparking a two-run inning with a sac fly to score Nolan Jekich. A bases-loaded walk of leadoff hitter Jacob Foley sent catcher Landon Peterson across home plate for the decisive run.

"I trust our hitters a lot, and our defense is awesome," Wong said. "Those hits will come when we have the bases loaded. It's always good to knock them in, but I guess we didn't need them as much tonight as we might on Friday."

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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