Skyview High needed the best from its ace, Sage Diehm. The Hawks got exactly that.
The North Carolina commit threw a complete game on 118 pitches, striking out seven batters in the Hawks' 4-1 victory against Bishop Kelly in the 4A District Three championship Friday at Bishop Kelly High.
"We were able to take care of business early in this tournament, so he was able to come back," Skyview coach Ryan Bobo said. "He just dealt today."
Skyview handed Bishop Kelly its second straight loss in the district championship after rallying with three runs in the top of the seventh in 2013. The win avenged two regular-season losses against the Knights this season, which never deterred the Hawks' confidence in the third meeting.
"We kind of gave away the first game," Bobo said. "We were up late and had some defensive lapses that cost us the first game. The second game they jumped on us early, and we weren't able to get back into it."
Skyview will face Pocatello as District Three's No. 1 seed in next week's state tournament. Bishop Kelly, which had its 12-game winning streak snapped, will play Bonneville as the No. 2 seed. Columbia, which beat Middleton 4-1 in Friday's third-place game, will play Twin Falls.
"The biggest thing is it gives us a lot of confidence going forward," Bobo said. "The other seven teams are going to be good - they're there for a reason. We're not going to look past anybody, wherever we went in, we'd have the same approach."
Added Diehm: "This was our first goal (district) and now we're going for our second (state). This gives us a ton of confidence, and I think we have momentum to win it."
Diehm worked a no-hitter through four innings and a one-hitter into the sixth before Roman Campanella, Andy Lawrence and Justin Marino reeled off consecutive singles to manufacture the only run for the Knights.
"I was thinking, 'Here we go, let's do it,' " Diehm said of the tricky sixth inning. "Just throw at them and let my defense back me up."
As it turned out, Diehm didn't need any support after promptly striking out the two ensuing batters to retire the side.
"He's got a plus fastball and a curveball and a changeup that has good bite and movement," Bobo said of Diehm. "He had all three working today, and when he does, he's tough."
Skyview generated an early lead off Bishop Kelly starter Ross Clevenger. After an opening walk in the second inning, Rhys Vickers slapped an RBI single for the 1-0 advantage.
Zach Babneau later extended the cushion to 2-0 in the third inning after his hotshot to short led to a run-scoring error.
Despite striking out four batters, Clevenger uncharacteristically struggled with his control. Four walks led to his high pitch count (94) and eventually forced Bishop Kelly to reach into the bullpen after Kory Hamilton's RBI double pushed Skyview's lead to 3-0 in the fourth.
In three innings of relief, Tyler Oldenberg efficiently kept the Knights within striking distance, only allowing one run on a passed ball against the first batter he faced.
But Diehm and Co. proved too much defensively.
Trevor Phibbs: 377-6424; Twitter: @IDS_Phibbs