Rocky Mountain High senior pitcher Ryan Beard punctuated a 9-6 victory over Capital on Friday with a high-and-tight strikeout.
The swinging K earned the Grizzlies their second 5A District Three baseball title in school history and moved Rocky Mountain’s perfect record to 27-0.
Beard allowed himself a mid-air chest bump with catcher JT Strickler. But he quickly returned to the businesslike handshakes that have encapsulated Rocky Mountain’s march to perfection, even if those handshakes had an extra oomph to them.
“It’s an all-business mentality,” Rocky Mountain second baseman Tyler Hollow said. “We try to come in and do our work, and then get out of there as quick as possible.”
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Both teams already clinched their state berths Tuesday and played for seeding Friday.
Capital (14-12) takes on the winner of Saturday’s state play-in game between Vallivue (17-10) and Lake City (17-10) at 10 a.m. Thursday at Memorial Stadium in the first round of the 5A state tournament. And Rocky Mountain will carry its undefeated record into state, where it will face the loser of Saturday’s game between Hillcrest and Highland at 7:15 p.m.
“It’s ridiculous,” Rocky Mountain coach Jake Taylor said of his team’s record. “It’s kind of unfathomable to believe that a high school team with the athletes in this area, with the coaching in this area, can roll that record off.
“But like we just told the guys, now we’re just looking for a three-game win streak, just like the other seven teams (at state).”
Hollow jumpstarted the Grizzlies on Friday. With two outs in the second inning, Hollow rolled over a pitch into the hole between first and second base. Capital second baseman Tristan Newell laid out on the outfield grass for the stop and fired to first. But Hollow beat out the throw by a step.
The hustle play paid off as the Grizzlies followed with eight more two-out hits to rack up a 7-0 lead.
“Everyone pulled through,” said Rocky Mountain shortstop Jackson Cluff, a BYU commit who highlighted the inning with a two-run double down the right-field line. “Everyone had their opportunities and made it happen.”
Rocky Mountain nearly gave the game back to Capital in the third though, when three errors led to four unearned runs. Capital kept chipping away and trailed 9-6 entering the sixth when it placed runners on second and third base with two outs.
Eagles shortstop Conner Poulson appeared to pull a shot through the left side that would plate two runs and cut the lead to one. But Rocky Mountain third baseman Seth Reisbeck dove to his left, robbed Poulson of the base hit and fired to first to end the threat.
“He’s a great player,” Taylor said. “He kind of gets lost in the shuffle a little bit with some of the other big names. But he’s every bit as good as anyone we have.”
Beard, Rocky Mountain’s ace, pitched the final three frames for a three-inning save that pushes the Grizzlies’ record past the 2013 Bonneville club, which went 26-0 to win the 4A state title as Idaho’s last unbeaten high school baseball team.
But Rocky Mountain’s business-as-usual mentality won’t let it celebrate that feat too much, not with the state tournament still ahead.
“It’s pretty cool,” Hollow allowed. “But we’ve got to come in tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock. We’ve got four practices until Thursday night’s game, and we’ll just try to get better every day.”
4A DISTRICT TITLE: SKYVIEW 9, BK 1
Skyview rolled over Bishop Kelly for its third straight 4A District Three title at home Friday night. The Hawks (17-8) face Preston at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the 4A state tournament at Bishop Kelly.