The Southern Idaho Conference struggled on the opening day of the 5A state tournament Thursday at Boise’s Memorial Stadium.
With four automatic berths to the tournament, only Meridian remains in the title hunt after upsetting district champion Eagle 1-0 on Thursday night. The Warriors (17-12) face Lewiston (23-5) in the semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, and Lake City (17-8) takes on Highland (20-11) at 4:30 p.m.
The 5A SIC is limited to one team in the semifinals for the second time in 10 years.
MERIDIAN 1, EAGLE 0
Meridian ended the regular season eighth in the 12-team, 5A SIC, meaning it had to win a play-in game just to qualify for the district tournament.
Blake McFadden delivered a 10-strikeout, one-hitter in the play-in game to continue the Warriors’ season. And the lefty bound for Treasure Valley Community College delivered again Thursday, firing a four-hit shutout to lift Meridian into the semifinals for the first time since 2009.
McFadden cruised through the Mustang lineup, striking out four and only allowing one runner to reach second base.
“I’ve known Blake since my freshman year, and I just know that kid is nails,” Meridian right fielder Tyler Hollingsworth said. “I expect nothing else but a ‘W’ when he’s on the mound.”
Hollingsworth delivered the only run in the fourth inning as McFadden and Eagle’s Eli Shubert — who threw his eighth straight complete game — battled. Hollingsworth lined a 2-2 curveball up the middle and over the leaping glove of shortstop Kole Lane to continue Meridian’s postseason and set up a rematch with Lewiston. The Bengals beat Meridian in the first round of last year’s state tournament.
“He’s been clutch for us all year. It’s another big hit by him,’’ McFadden said.
Shubert took the loss for Eagle, giving up one unearned run on four hits with three strikeouts. The Mustangs (19-8), who had won 13-of-14 entering state, face Madison (17-14) at 1 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in the consolation bracket.
LAKE CITY 5, TIMBERLINE 2
Timberline (24-4) entered state as an offensive juggernaut, hitting .399 as a team and averaging a SIC-best 10.1 runs per game. But Lake City left-hander Dominic Conigliaro kept the Wolves’ lineup off balance for seven innings.
The senior flashed a slow, looping curveball the defending state champs could never time. And when the Wolves started looking for it, he peppered the corners with fastballs, freezing batters in the box.
He finished the complete game surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out seven to carry Lake City into the semifinals for the first time since 2008.
“I thought there were a lot of things that came into play,” Timberline coach Larry Price said. “But the No. 1 thing was that pitcher working all three pitches and being effective. He had that mound presence and just did a great job. My hat is off to that young man.”
Timberline drops into the consolation bracket where it faces Mountain View (14-15) at 10 a.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium. A win gives Price, who is retiring after the tournament, his 600th career high school victory between stints at Timberline and Boise.
599 Career high school wins for Timberline coach Larry Price between his time with the Wolves and Boise High. He has 173 career losses.
HIGHLAND 5, MOUNTAIN VIEW 4
A disastrous first inning sunk Mountain View, and Highland took advantage, plating four runs and advancing to the semifinals for the second time in four years.
Mountain View ace lefty Nick Flesher struck out Highland leadoff hitter CC Burrup, swinging to start the game, but a wild pitch allowed him to reach first. Two errors and a Cordell Shipley double later and the Mavericks found themselves trailing 4-0 before stepping up to the plate.
“We gave them six outs in the first inning, and in the state tournament, you can’t do that,” Mountain View coach Matt Rasmussen said. “Four-run innings are hard to overcome.”
The Mavericks chipped away at the lead and put the tying run on second base with one out in the bottom of the seventh. But Highland pitcher Dillon Chandler induced a pair of pop flies to escape with the complete-game win.
LEWISTON 2, MADISON 0
Lewiston’s Julian Washburn fired a five-hit shutout, leading the defending state runner-up in a pitcher’s duel. Jake Munoz plated the game’s first run in the top of the sixth, scoring on an error. Alex Light added an insurance run in the seventh with an RBI triple. Madison pitcher Matt Bolingbroke gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits with three strikeouts.
Friday’s 5A baseball semifinals
▪ Highland (20-11) vs. Lake City (17-8), 4:30 p.m.
▪ Lewiston (23-5) vs. Meridian (17-12), 7:15 p.m.