LEWISTON — “We had a conversation about striking out,” Clearwater Valley coach Josh Bradley said after his young squad pulled off a 16-7 upset of Whitepine League top seed Genesee last Thursday, May 16. “We had been striking out eight times a game. You know how many innings that is? We worked on our two-strike approach — widening out, choking up and just making contact — and the guys have been hitting great since.”
But during the 1A District II championship game against Prairie’s Clark Bruno the next day, May 17, the Rams struck out 10 times and fell to PHS 11-1.
CV would have grabbed the district’s second seed with another win over Genesee. The Bulldogs salvaged their postseason and eliminated the Rams by a 16-6 score.
Pirates coach Kyle Westoff credited CV’s stumble to Bruno’s breaking pitches.
“Clark, he’s got a curve ball and a slider. He was doing a great job starting it on the plate and breaking it out of the strike zone, even throwing it in full counts with a lot of confidence,” Westoff said. “That was a lot of fun, and so rewarding after two years without baseball.”
The Pirates took an early lead with aggressive base running in the form of an “early steal” out of a first-and-third situation, which prompted a throwing error that allowed Prairie’s Tyler Hankerson to score from third. The Rams defended the play well enough to force both runners to retreat, but a misplaced throw to third allowed both Hankerson and Brandon Anderson to advance. Anderson scored on an error later in the inning.
CV answered with a run in the top of the third, but lost an opportunity for a big inning of its own when Prairie finished off a rundown with a putout at the plate.
Bruno reached base leading off the bottom of the third; a walk followed by a bean-ball loaded the bases, and Prairie scored six runs in a flash.
The Rams’ Friday games bore little resemblance to their upset victory over Genesee last Thursday — a game Bradley marked as the Rams’ best of the year.
In support of starter Cody Morrow, who pitched seven innings, the Rams came up with two-out run-scoring hits during the third and fourth innings. After tying it at 7-7, CV scored nine unanswered.
During the late game last Thursday, Prairie beat Troy 3-1 despite falling behind when the Trojans manufactured a run during the top of the fifth inning.
Clark Bruno hammered a two-run double but was later called out for a non-slide on a non-play at the plate. But no matter: a two-run cushion was more than starting pitcher Tyler Hankerson needed while scattering five hits.
Up next, Prairie is set to return to Lewiston for the 1A state tournament to be held this Friday and Saturday, May 16-17 at Church Field. The Pirates will open against Horseshoe Bend at 10 a.m. Friday. Should Prairie advance with two Friday wins, the championship game will be played at noon Saturday.
With a split on Friday PHS would play in the consolation game at 10 a.m. Saturday. Possible opponents include Wilder and Genesee.
PAYETTE — After a Bulldogs win over St. Maries set up a Grangeville-Orofino title bout in the 2A District I-II tournament last week, three losses in a row knocked GHS out of the playoffs.
Orofino powered past Grangeville 9-1 by way of a six-run fourth inning.
Immediately afterward, St. Maries — which was mowed down by Jasper Sabatino the previous night — exacted revenge with a 14-5 win over a depleted GHS pitching staff.
During the play-in game against Marsing last Saturday, May 10, Sabatino struck out 10 in a two-hitter — allowing just one run. But Marsing prevailed 1-0 with a no-hitter and shutout by starter Austin Williams, which he punctuated with 13 strikeouts — the last of which came with the bases loaded.