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Rocky Mountain baseball makes it a clean sweep of titles in 2017

Rocky Mountain celebrates first state baseball title since 2012

The Rocky Mountain High baseball team beat Timberline 11-4 for the Idaho 5A state baseball championship. Left-hander Matt Hansen recorded the final out.
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The Rocky Mountain High baseball team beat Timberline 11-4 for the Idaho 5A state baseball championship. Left-hander Matt Hansen recorded the final out.

The Rocky Mountain baseball team completed its championship trifecta Saturday at Borah High School.

The Grizzlies topped Timberline 11-4 in the 5A state final to finish the year as conference, district and state champions. No 5A SIC team had swept all three championships since Rocky Mountain did it in 2012.

“We knew we had a shot,” Rocky Mountain senior pitcher Brooks Juhasz said. “Coming into this winter, we knew we were going to be good. We just didn’t know how good we were going to be. The train just started rolling and it didn’t stop.”

The Grizzlies (22-5) entered the season as the preseason pick to the win the 5A Southern Idaho Conference. And with a pair of pitchers committed to Division I scholarships, Rocky Mountain carried the favorite moniker into the state tournament.

But the weight of expectations never bowed the Grizzlies’ shoulders.

“They’re a unique group,” Rocky Mountain coach Joe Santa Maria said. “They just play relaxed, they have confidence and they get the job done. They work hard, and it’s paid off for them. I’m proud of these guys. It’s a great accomplishment.”

Rocky Mountain struggled at the plate through the first two rounds of the state tournament, totaling just six runs (three unearned) on eight hits, before erupting in the state championship.

The Grizzlies grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third inning before conference rival Timberline (21-8) answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Timberline third baseman Layton Wagner airmailed a throw to first base on a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning, opening the floodgates for five more Rocky runs. The Wolves threatened to make it a seesaw affair in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases. But second baseman Bryson Moorhouse ranged to his left and dove face-first into the right field grass to snag a grounder from Connor Riddle, and then popped up to gun down the Wolves’ leadoff hitter at first to end the inning.

“Once it was hit, I thought it was through, so I was going to second to cover second,” Rocky Mountain senior shortstop Ty Hollow said. “Out of nowhere, he lays out. That was big-time. I still don’t know how he did it.”

Timberline mounted one last threat when Alex McFarland-Smith’s double cut the lead to 10-4 with runners on second and third. But reliever Matt Hansen needed just four pitches to escape the inning. He struck out the final game’s final batter to set off a pileup atop the mound.

“You work so hard and this is your goal for the entire season, through the winter, through the fall,” Hollow said. “To finally get it done with this group of seniors, all your best friends, I can’t even put it into words.”

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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