Varsity Extra

Rocky Mountain keeps unbeaten streak alive

Shortstop Jackson Cluff made a diving catch toward the third-base line, popped up in stride and threw the ball to first baseman Ryan Beard for an out.

On Friday night, it was Cluff’s extra-effort, hit-robbing play in the second inning that got the Rocky Mountain baseball team going in a 7-2 win over Borah at Wigle Field, but it has taken countless more plays just like it to keep the Grizzlies unbeaten through 19 games this season.

Rocky Mountain is five games shy of wrapping up its first perfect regular season in history.

“We just try to keep getting better. That was never one of our goals coming out,” Rocky Mountain coach Jake Taylor said. “There’s so many stinking good teams in our league that it just has kind of happened up to this point, but we just keep focusing and rarely even talk about (being undefeated). We just want to keep getting better, which I know we can.”

That might be an unsettling thought for the rest of the 5A Southern Idaho Conference with the district tournament only two weeks away. The Grizzlies have outscored their opponents 157-38, including seven shutouts and 13 wins in which their opponents have scored two runs or less.

Taylor isn’t interested in talking history just yet.

The Grizzlies take on Timberline in a first-place showdown Thursday and Friday. Timberline is 18-1 and 11-0 in the 5A SIC. It will be the first meeting between the teams this season.

“One through nine, we’ve got some guys that feel pretty confident,” Taylor said. “We played some pretty good defense (against Borah), had a solid relay, and we’ve got practice at eight in the morning to see if we can get better.”

Against the Lions (15-3, 7-3 5A SIC), Cluff’s defensive play helped inspire the Grizzlies’ bats in the top of the third.

“When you see a play like that, it just fires us up,” Rocky Mountain senior pitcher Matt Roll said.

Rocky Mountain sophomore center fielder Ryan Hansen led off the third inning with a triple, Cluff sent Hansen home with a double to the gap in left field and Cluff later scored on Roll’s infield single.

Roll also earned the win on the mound, pitching six innings with seven hits, two runs, two strikeouts and no walks.

Roll and fellow senior Seth Reisbeck led Rocky Mountain’s offense with two hits apiece.

Rocky Mountain added one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and tacked on two more scores in the seventh to close out its series against Borah by outscoring the Lions 17-2.

“You only get so many opportunities and the team we have right here, the coaches, it’s a great opportunity to succeed,” said Cluff, a BYU signee.

“I love coming out here with all our guys. We have a good group of seniors who have been on varsity for a while, and we just kind of realize this is our last time. We have to give it our all. That’s kind of what we do. Our motto is just to go out there everyday and give it everything we’ve got.”

The Lions drop from third to fourth place in the conference standings after back-to-back losses to the Grizzlies.

Junior shortstop Riley Runyon and senior first baseman Joey Sullivan each had two hits for the Lions, and senior center fielder Joel Perry knocked in both of Borah’s runs with a single to right in the fifth inning.