Varsity Extra

Timberline baseball on the prowl for a 5A state title

Timberline proved revenge is a dish best served at state.

The Wolves defeated Capital 11-0 in six innings Friday at Memorial Stadium in the semifinals of the 5A state high school baseball tournament, avenging a loss to the Eagles in the district semifinals.

The win lifts Timberline (25-4) into the state final for the fourth time in seven years. The Wolves will face Lewiston (23-5) for a championship game tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Rain has wreaked havoc with the 5A tournament’s schedule the first two days. Check IdahoStatesman.com for any updates.

TIMBERLINE 11, CAPITAL 0 (6)

Capital broke open the district semifinal between the two Treasure Valley clubs a week ago with 10 runs in the top of the first inning. Timberline returned the favor Friday, plating four runs in the top of the first for the second straight day.

The game, originally scheduled for 4:30 p.m., was moved to 10 a.m.

Timberline players immediately assembled for early morning batting practice.

“I think everybody wants to be here so bad, and we really put a lot of emphasis on just getting a really good start and making sure we get out early so we can put them away fast,” said Timberline first baseman Trey Steffler, who capped the first inning with a two-run double and finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles and six RBIs.

The Wolves kept adding to their lead, racking up 11 hits after totaling 15 in the tournament opener, to invoke the 10-run mercy rule after six innings. In addition to Steffler’s big day, Timberline junior shortstop Parker Price continued to devour opposing pitching, going 3-for-4 to make him 7-for-9 in the tournament.

Timberline coach Larry Price, Parker’s father, said he figured the Wolves would need every run they could scratch out after Capital (15-13) tallied 14 runs in the district semifinals. And he admits he didn’t sleep well Thursday night worrying how to slow the Eagles. But senior left-handed pitcher Nathan Buckner proved his coach’s apprehension wrong, tossing a three-hit shutout with four strikeouts.

“His split-finger fastball is the best one I’ve coached in 20-some years,” Larry Price said. “It drops off the table, and it’s a tough one to hit. And he mixes it in with a pretty firm fastball.”

Timberline takes on Lewiston looking for its sixth title since the school opened during the 1998-99 school year. The Wolves bring the hottest-hitting lineup in the tournament into the final and have their entire pitching staff available, including an inning from Buckner.

But Larry Price, who owns 10 state titles between Timberline and Boise, knows the Wolves haven’t won anything yet.

“We’re just displaying some poise under pressure right now,” he said. “I just see it in the kids’ eyes, at least the first two games.

“What we’ve done the first two games has given us a chance for a state title — and that’s all. We’ve got to come out, compete, play composed and have poise under pressure.”

LEWISTON 4,

HILLCREST 2

Clutch hitting and another solid pitching performance carried Lewiston to the state final for the first time since 2007.

Senior Kaden Woods held Hillcrest, which knocked off undefeated Rocky Mountain on Thursday, to two unearned runs on three hits. The right-hander grew stronger as the game wore on, retiring the final 13 batters he faced.

“He was just locating everything,” Lewiston junior first baseman Michael Murphy said. “His pitches were falling, and he was getting the calls he wanted. It was a hell of a job out there.”

The Bengals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to back-to-back, two-out, RBI doubles from Luke White and Josh Moore. The Knights (20-11) tied the game in the top of the second with two unearned runs, and the teams traded scoreless frames until Lewiston came through again in the sixth.

Murphy’s bloop single into shallow right field scored pinch runner Kolt Olson, who was stealing on the pitch, from first base to break the tie. Dalton Stamper followed with an RBI double into right-center field to bring home Murphy and the insurance run.

Every run in the game was scored with two outs.

“We weren’t being too picky,” Murphy said of the Bengals’ two-out approach. “We were just trying to get what we could take.”

CONSOLATION BRACKET

Friday’s rain pushed the semifinals ahead to the morning and early afternoon, and it washed out the consolation bracket games.

Rocky Mountain will host Meridian at noon Saturday, and Lake City takes on Highland at Borah High at noon. The consolation final follows at 3 p.m. at Rocky Mountain High.

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