SIC sweeps first round of 5A state baseball tournament

Capital, Mountain View, Eagle and Rocky Mountain won in the 5A state tournament.

tphibbs@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2014 

For the seventh straight year, the Southern Idaho Conference will win a 5A state baseball title.

All four teams moved into the semifinals with opening wins Thursday at Memorial Stadium.

Capital, the regular-season District Three champion, will play fourth-seeded Mountain View at 4:30 p.m., followed by Eagle, the district tournament champion, and No. 3 seed Rocky Mountain at 7:15.

CAPITAL 10, COEUR D'ALENE 8 (8)

Boise has heard its fair share of the Bill Buckner legend after the former Red Sox first baseman relocated to the Treasure Valley in 1990 after 22 seasons in the big leagues.

Although the opening day of the 5A state tournament isn't nearly comparable to the magnitude of the World Series, it was certainly reminiscent.

After blowing a six-run lead in the fifth inning, Capital's Alex Cloninger hit a grounder that escaped under the glove of Coeur d'Alene's Sean Sutton, leading to the Eagles' 10-8 win.

"Playoff baseball: You win any way you can," Capital coach Jerry Hollow said. "That was a street fight, and you tip your hat to Coeur d'Alene because they could have easily rolled over. In a street fight, you’re going to get punched and you’ve got to be able to take the punch and deliver another one. We were able to do that.”

It took five innings for the Vikings (20-5) to adjust to Capital pitcher Sam Wong, who struck out seven of the first 16 batters he faced.

“I’d start inside, hard, and then set them up and throw a changeup outside to try and keep them off their toes,” said Wong, who improved to 6-0.

But Wong’s control began to unravel in the fifth inning. Coeur d’Alene pulled within two behind consecutive singles by Gibson Green (2-for-4), Kolby DeHaas (1-3) and Nick Nyquist (1-4), and doubles from Sutton (2-4, 2 RBIs) and Devin Kluss (2-4, 3 RBIs).

With two outs and the tying runs in scoring position, freshman Reggie Nault — calmer than a mill pond — evened things up at 8-8 with a pinch hit, two-run double.

The game was billed as opposing styles. The Vikings broke the school record with 26 home runs and 65 doubles, and Capital (17-6) notoriously shut down its opponents. Newsflash: The Eagles can whip it, too.

Capital manufactured 14 hits, including five for extra bases. Nolan Jekich finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two triples, while his twin brother added a pair of RBIs on a single and fifth-inning sacrifice fly.

MOUNTAIN VIEW 4, HIGHLAND 3 (11)

Mountain View pitcher Caleb Burnham transformed his nightmare with three pitches. Highland loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th inning, and Burnham was behind in the count 3-0.

A game-winning walk? How anticlimactic.

But Burnham blazed the fourth pitch past Highland’s Greg Casper. And the fifth. And the sixth before escaping the inning with an infield pop.

In the 11th, Mountain View’s Jared Brown snaked an RBI single up the gut in his only at-bat to give the Mavericks the win.

EAGLE 3, MADISON 1

It was small-ball at its finest, so naturally Eagle felt right at home. The Mustangs emphasize aggressive base running, timely bunts and a strong defensive core. They’ve won that way the entire year, usually in one- to two-run ballgame. That didn’t change against Madison.

Eagle failed to generate any earned runs, but still managed to glue three runs on the board via a bases-loaded walk, an error and a passed ball.

Griffen Pape pitched five strong innings before Eli Shubert finished the Bobcats off in the final two. Madison’s Dallas Crane provided a short-lived lead with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third before Eagle tied it up in the bottom half. ROCKY MOUNTAIN 8, LEWISTON 2

Rocky Mountain’s Ryan Beard doesn’t have a beard. But he pitched like a man amongst boys. The junior retired 10 straight, including six consecutive strikeouts, and 13-of-14 batters before Lewiston’s Zachary Ricard hit a two-out single in the fifth inning.

Jarett Thoren continued his late-season surge for the Grizzlies, finishing 4-of-4 with two RBIs and a double. Isaiah Johnson added two RBIs on a pair of singles.

Lewiston threatened briefly in the sixth inning, scoring two runs off three hits — from Jake Munoz, Justin Shandrick and Brett Martin — against Nolan Walker. Rocky Mountain didn’t risk letting the wound open further, calling to Seth Reisbeck to close the Bengals out.

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