Rocky Mountain has turned to junior pitcher Ethan Christianson in key moments all season. And on Thursday, the left-hander delivered again.
Christianson struck out nine and held Coeur d’Alene to one run on three hits to lead the Grizzlies to a 3-1 victory in the first round of the 5A state tournament at Borah High.
“He’s a cool customer. He doesn’t let the situation get bigger than it is,” Rocky Mountain coach Joe Santa Maria said. “He threw lots of strikes. He really only needed one or two pitches tonight, and for the most part he threw strikes well and competed.”
The win lifts Rocky Mountain (20-5) into the state semifinals, where it will face Bonneville (22-7) at 6 p.m. Friday at Borah.
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Coeur d’Alene (15-11) aided Christianson’s and Rocky Mountain’s cause Thursday, committing three errors the Grizzlies converted into three unearned runs.
Kase Ogata put Rocky Mountain on the board when he scored on second baseman Justin Bates’ second-inning error.
Ryan Hansen reached base in the third inning on first baseman Trevor Luckey’s dropped throw. Kaden Hollow followed with an RBI double to left-center field, and a botched relay throw allowed Nick Romano to score from first.
“Every team we’re going to see is going to be very good,” said Christianson, who improved to 8-0. “We’re going to have to scrap and get every run we can, no matter what way it is.”
Christianson cruised through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. With one run already across the plate, Coeur d’Alene put runners on first and third base with one out. But the left-hander from The Ambrose School struck out Luckey and induced a fly ball to right field to escape his only jam.
ROCKY MTN. 3, COEUR D’ALENE 1
Coeur d’Alene (15-11) — Hitters: Noah Mayfield 1-3, Jackson Sumner 1-2 (RBI), Quinton Bunch 1-2. Pitchers: Sumner (L) 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.
Rocky Mountain (20-5) — Hitters: Kaden Hollow 2-3 (2B, RBI), Payton Lewis 1-2. Pitchers: Ethan Christianson (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.