Meridian High fought, scratched and clawed its way to the 5A state championship game Saturday, rallying from a district tournament play-in game all the way to the final game at state for the first time since 1996.
But the Warriors finally ran out of magic, falling to Lake City 4-1 at Boise’s Memorial Stadium. Lake City (19-8) was the last team outside of the Treasure Valley to win the 5A state title in 2007.
“It’s tremendous,” Lake City coach Paul Manzardo said. “I’m so tickled to death for these seniors who have given their hearts and souls to Lake City High School for four years, and finally all of that hard work paid off for them. Taking this trophy back to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, it means a whole lot.”
Meridian (18-13) entered the top of the seventh trailing by three and quickly tried to mount another rally after erasing a 4-0 deficit in the semifinals against Lewiston on Friday.
Brandon Macho led off the seventh with a double to deep center. But Macho, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, tried to take home on another wild pitch, and Lake City catcher Grant Wade fired to covering pitcher Kodie Kolden for the game’s final out, setting off an infield dogpile.
“I don’t think there was a big talent discrepancy, if any, between the two teams,” Meridian coach Rod Williams said. “It was anybody’s game. Tip your hat to them. They made great plays.”
Kolden continued a dominating run for Lake City pitchers at the state tournament. Dominic Conigliaro opened the tournament by holding Timberline, the SIC’s top offense, to two runs, and Cody Garza followed with a seven-hit shutout of Highland in the semifinals.
Kolden held Meridian to one unearned run on seven hits, but Manzardo and Williams pointed to Lake City’s defense. Left fielder Bennett Cunningham made a full-extension, backhanded catch in the fourth inning, and center fielder Tanner Criswell’s sliding catch in the seventh kept Meridian’s rally from getting on track.
“Balls don’t fall in our outfield,” Kolden said.
The loss keeps Meridian from hanging its first state championship banner since 1987. But Williams said the run to the state championship game is a building block for the Warriors.
“It keeps us at that state level, but we’ve got to punch through,” Williams said. “It gives us motivation for the future. It’s still second place, though, so it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
LEWISTON 6, HIGHLAND 2
Lewiston (24-6), the defending state runner-up, brought home the third-place trophy with a win at Capital High.
TIMBERLINE 5, EAGLE 1
The Wolves (26-4) broke out for all five runs in the fifth inning at Capital, allowing Timberline coach Larry Price to finish his career with the consolation trophy and a high school record of 601-173 — a .776 winning percentage.