It was the duel everyone had hoped for, and it had the vibe of a state championship game, even if it was still the semifinals.
Washington State-bound Chandler Greenfield was on the mound Friday for Twin Falls, facing off against North Carolina-bound Sage Diehm and the Skyview Hawks. The pair combined to yield just three runs and 10 hits while striking out 16.
Twin Falls loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out, winning 2-1 via Braden Stutzman’s sacrifice fly to deep left field. The Bruins will face Blackfoot, 21-6 winners over Moscow, in the 4A state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Kelly High.
“It’s what you live for — when you’re a little kid, pretending to be up with the bases loaded like that,” Stutzman said. “It was great to be in that situation ... and now be where we’ve wanted to be.”
TWIN FALLS 2, SKYVIEW 1
Skyview coach Ryan Bobo said after the Hawks beat Preston on Thursday that he wouldn’t be surprised if Friday’s game was a 1-0 sort of affair. Close enough.
But that, of course, meant someone had to lose, and neither team played like a squad that would end up playing for third place.
“A lot of games are lost more so than won — tonight, Twin won,” Bobo said.
Chances to score were at a premium, with the defending 4A champion Bruins leading 1-0 entering the sixth inning. Skyview tied it on a Rhys Vickers triple, but he was stranded after the next two hitters struck out and flew out to center.
The previous frame, with runners on second and third and one out, the Hawks couldn’t score, ending the inning when Kaleb Jones made a leaping catch on a high throw at first, tagging out Joe Reinertson before he reached the bag.
“A lot of disappointment. ... We played the best we could, but sometimes that’s baseball, just doesn’t fall your way,” said Vickers, who went 3-for-3.
Both Diehm and Greenfield had eight strikeouts and allowed five hits. Though it was a loss, it was the sort of outing that Diehm has consistently put up through his career.
“He threw his heart out,” Vickers said. “Kind of bummed out that was the last game getting to see him pitch.”
Cody Root got the Bruins going with one out in the seventh on an infield single. He advanced to second on a passed ball, then was joined on base by Landon Jones via a walk. Mason Farr’s single down the line loaded the bases — Vickers made a diving stab on a ball but couldn’t tag Root or throw out Farr at first. That brought up the Oregon-bound Stutzman for the game-winning swing to drive in Root.
“We wanted to take a lot of pitches, we knew his pitch count was getting up,” Stutzman said. “We weren’t going to get runs easy, so we had to scrap, and we did it at the right time.”
BLACKFOOT 21, MOSCOW 6
Considering the end result, it’s hard to imagine that Blackfoot pitcher Pacen Hayes had about a dreadful start as he could imagine.
The sophomore walked Moscow’s first four batters. His coach, Liam Pope, peered out toward the mound, his mind already running.
“We were sweating, already thinking about plan B,” Pope said. “Luckily, we put up three ourselves in the top of the inning. It gave you the chance to relax a bit, but if it’s 0-0, maybe you pull the trigger. ... but he found his zone. Glad we didn’t, now we look like geniuses.”
But Hayes sure did find the zone — both figurative and literally. After a minor adjustment in his delivery that coaches pointed out in a meeting on the mound, he sat down the next three batters via strikeout with the bases loaded.
When he left after the fifth inning, Hayes had struck out 11 Bear hitters and had a 12-5 lead. “I was like ‘I gotta find something different,’ got those strikeouts and went from there,” Hayes said.
He helped himself with a 5-for-5 showing at the plate, too, cranking two doubles and driving in three runs. The Broncos racked up 20 hits, with six players getting at least two earning a shot at their first state title.
“Everyone was hitting well, I think we came out ready,” Hayes said. “... And if I can make it easier on myself hitting, that’s huge. It’s a lot easier to go to the mound after you’ve hit a double than it is after being struck out.”
CALDWELL TO FACE MINICO FOR CONSOLATION
The Caldwell Cougars and Minico Spartans have the chance to end their seasons with a win, as they will face off for the consolation championship at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bishop Kelly.
Caldwell took out Preston with a 5-2 win, while Minico ended Bishop Kelly’s season with a 7-1 victory. The Spartans got a stellar effort from pitcher Jaden Jensen, who tossed a one-hitter, striking out 10 and walking three.