Meridian senior Bryson Dibben hadn’t recorded an official at-bat in 13 days. So when coach Rod Williams turned to him, down by a run in the sixth inning of a 5A state baseball semifinal Friday at Memorial Stadium, Dibben figured he’d pinch run.
But when Williams told him to hit, Dibben didn’t skip a beat as he rushed to his equipment bag.
“I was like, ‘It’s about time. Let’s get it done,’ ” Dibben said.
Dibben delivered, grounding a curveball to left side for an infield hit. Lewiston shortstop Jaden Phillips fired the throw to first base into the Bengals’ dugout, allowing two runs to score and Meridian to complete its rally for a 5-4 win and a berth in the state championship.
The Warriors (18-12) — who finished eighth in the 5A SIC regular-season and needed to win a play-in game just to qualify for the district tournament — take on Lake City (18-8) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Boise’s Memorial Stadium for the state title.
It’s the Warriors first championship game appearance since 1996, before any player on the team was born.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Williams said. “Meridian is a special place around here. We’ve had a lot of adversity in the last several years with the multitude of new schools opening up and us splitting. It’s stressful. This group of kids for the last four, five years, they’ve put Meridian back on the map baseball-wise.”
The Warriors entered the sixth inning trailing 4-0 and with Lewiston lefty Dalton Stamper working on a one-hitter. The Bengals pulled Stamper after a four-pitch walk to open the sixth, opening the floodgates.
Back-to-back singles from Drake Simons and Talon Kreft loaded the bases. Phoenix Hanneman grounded into a double play, scoring Meridian’s first run but wasting two of its final six outs.
The Warriors kept the rally going with three more singles, including Aahron Coats’ infield hit he beat out with a head-first slide at first base to cut the lead to one. The slide allowed Coats, Meridian’s shortstop, to make up for the three errors he committed in the top of the sixth that led to a pair of Lewiston runs and set the stage for Dibben.
“Thank God we play seven innings,” Williams said. “That’s what we told them — ‘We’ve got six outs left. Let’s dig in.’ ”
“It’s high school baseball. Baseball at any level, you can turn things pretty fast.”
LAKE CITY 6, HIGHLAND 0
Lake City senior Cody Garza followed up a no-hitter in his last outing, the northern Idaho district championship, with a seven-hit shutout to lift the Timberwolves into the final for the first time since 2007.
The right-hander gave up a hit in each inning except the first, but he quickly worked out of trouble, stranding eight Rams on base.
“That’s what Cody Garza does,” coach Paul Manzardo said. “He just battles and never dies.”
Dominic Conigliaro went 3-for-4 with a triple to lead Lake City a day after shutting down Timberline’s lineup in the first round.
Highland (20-12) faces Lewiston (23-6) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Capital High in the third-place game.
TIMBERLINE 5, MOUNTAIN VIEW 3
Trey Steffler went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and struck out six in a complete game in the consolation bracket, earning Timberline coach Larry Price his 600th victory as a high school coach.
“Someday for me 600 will sink in. (There are) so many emotions,” Price said in a text message. “I’ve been so fortunate to be able to lead so many great young men on the field of battle.”
Price will retire after Saturday’s consolation championship against Eagle (20-8) at 1 p.m. at Capital. The former Boise High coach, who took over Timberline (25-4) when it opened in 1998-99, owns a career record of 600-173 and 11 state titles.
EAGLE 11, MADISON 0 (5)
Eagle closer Reed Harrington, making his second start of the year, blanked the eastern Idaho champ in a four-hit shutout while striking out seven. Kylar Honan led the Mustangs at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs.