ST. MARIES Earlier in the week, Grangeville whomped Potlatch, but the game of the week came last Saturday, April 30, at the literal last moment of a key game on the Lumberjacks’ field.
Late in the game, it looked like deja vu all over again for the Bulldogs, who frittered away a big lead against St. Maries in Lewiston a year ago. GHS took a six-run lead to the bottom of the seventh, but frittered all the insurance away.
“We finally got an out and then a strikeout with the bases loaded and their nine-hole hitter up to bat and us ahead 8-6,” Bulldogs coach Lee Nadiger said. “The next pitch went to the screen and scored the runner from third and let the other two move up.”
Then, with a 1-2 count, St. Maries tried to geek the Bulldogs with a play Grangeville has run successfully in big moments over the years: Oscar.
“Basically, the guy at second takes a huge lead and falls down,” Nadiger said. “It’s designed to get the pitcher to panic, and as soon as he throws the ball to the shortstop, the runner at third breaks for home.”
Instead, a couple of GHS freshmen had hands in on sharp defense. Chase Adkison, who relieved senior starting pitcher Layton Harris for the last three innings, stepped off the rubber and ran at the dandy who had danced too far from second base. Adkison threw to Harris, who was then at short, and Harris threw to another frosh — third baseman Michael Woods.
As Woods received the ball, he focused toward the runner between second and third, the one on third broke for home.
“Woods takes two steps toward the guy, then turns and fires it to home, right on the money,” Nadiger said. “The play at the plate wasn’t even close. Whether he had in mind to fool the guy at third into taking off or not, it was a great play by a freshman, to make the right decision and a strong throw.”
The putout at home made the final score: Grangeville 8, St. Maries 7.
Nadiger noted Harris pitched very well, and said Adkison worked two very smooth innings before the Lumberjacks’ late rally.
“I was really happy for six innings,” Nadiger said. “We played really well for six innings. Then we had some flashbacks to that game we lost to them in the late innings last year. This was an important win for us to get over that.”
It was a must-win game for Grangeville, as it keeps GHS in the running for the Central Idaho League title. Along with the title goes the top seed in the district tournament, and out of the district, one team is guaranteed a state tournament berth and one faces a May 14 play-in game.
Grangeville faced two more must-wins on Tuesday, May 3. (Look for the result of these games online at idahocountyfreepress.com.)
“The worst we can finish in the league is second, but the league champ will be in great shape with a first-round bye,” Nadiger said.
Earlier in the week, Nadiger highlighted Austin Parks, who stole six more bases at Potlatch to close in on the school’s single-season steals record.
GHS beat Potlatch 6-1.
Prairie, Genesee vie for Whitepine dominance
TROY — Daniel Mager delivered Prairie’s league-leading eighth win — and the Pirates’ 10th victory overall — by keeping Troy in check with six strikeouts.
The Pirates beat the Trojans 3-1 last Thursday, April 28, and kept pace with fellow Whitepine League unbeaten Genesee.
Genesee holds a 7-0 league record that grew to include a 9-4 win over Clearwater Valley on Monday night, May 2.
The Pirates and Bulldogs squared off for the defacto league title games after the Free Press print deadline Tuesday, May 3.
Clearwater Valley goes 3-1 in southern Idaho
Last weekend, CV played two double-headers in the Boise area, winning a 7-5 decision against Horseshoe Bend before dropping a 7-3 decision against the Mustangs, which the Rams followed up with a sweep of Cole Valley Christian by scores of 19-1 and 18-8.
Pitching the opener against Horseshoe Bend, Tyler Massey ran off six shutout innings before the Mustangs rallied.