Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Grangeville freshman pinch runner Tori Ebert was safe at the plate, sliding in for a 5-4 Bulldogs win over Orofino in the game that decided the 2018 Central Idaho League baseball champion.
As of Wednesday, May 2, 2018
With bottom-of-the-seventh heroics, Grangeville won head coach Lee Nadiger's first Central Idaho League baseball title 5-4 against Orofino Tuesday night, May 1. Having seen their early opportunity to lock up the title blasted away 11-3 in the first game of the afternoon double-header, and having seen a 4-2 lead crumble during the top of the seventh, Grangeville prevailed on a sacrifice fly senior Tyler Stephens lifted into shallow left field, deep enough to score pinch runner Torii Ebert from third.
Ebert, a fleet-footed freshman, was in for senior Kolten Key, who fouled off strike after strike before getting on base leading off the bottom of the seventh. Then junior Michael Woods fouled off two strikes in the course of drawing an eight-pitch walk. With runners on first and second, freshman Blake Schoo stepped in to bunt, and laid down a couple of doozies that rolled foul. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Schoo fouled off a couple of pitches before lining out to second for the first out of the inning.
"Schoo's at bat was a great at bat," Nadiger said. "If he had got on, they couldn't have walked Chase."
District Tournament Schedule
All games at Orofino.
May 7: Game 1: noon, No. 2 Seed vs. No. 3 Seed.
Game 2: 2:15 p.m., loser of Game 1 vs. Grangeville.
Game 3: winner of Game 1 vs. Grangeville.
Following the conclusion of the round robin: If a team is 2-0 they are the champion. The 0-2 team is out and the 1-1 team will be involved in a play-in game on at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, against the third team out of District III. That game will be played in Orofino if St. Maries or Grangeville are involved. If Orofino is involved that game will be played at Grangeville or a site to be determined.
May 8 (if necessary):
Game 4: 2 p.m. No. 2 seed vs. No. 3 seed (loser out).
Game 5: 4:30 p.m. winner of Game 4 vs. Grangeville (winner to state, loser to play-in)
Junior Chase Adkison -- a power-hitting leadoff batter -- was intentionally walked and didn't see a pitch. That brought up Stephens, who pitched all seven innings for Grangeville -- and who got enough of an 0-1 pitch to secure for Grangeville the regular season league title as well as the top seed in the district tournament that begins Monday at Orofino. The top seed's first game is the second of the tournament, so the Bulldogs will play after the St. Maries-Orofino game.
"I was very impressed how the guys bounced back after getting it taken to them in the first game," Nadiger said. "Between games, I got the senior guys together and asked them to show some leadership in the dugout and on the field, and they delivered. Both Tyler and Chase had just thrown five-inning complete games on Saturday, and getting 10-run wins in both those games was huge because it allowed them both to pitch again today. And the seniors stepped up. These seniors were the first group I coached and they've grown up into good baseball players and good men. Having to protect Chase when they walk him is a tough position for Tyler to be in in the order, but I have all the confidence in the world in him and he got the game ball today."
Grangeville had led the late game 4-2 after Adkison generated some instant offense in the third and fifth innings, taking advantage of a free pass to first base in each case by stealing second and moving to third on the Orofino catcher's overthrows into center field. In the third, Stephens followed up with a sacrifice fly into center field, and in the fifth, Adkison stole home.
Grangeville had led 2-0 when seniors Ethan Bonn and Trent Hunter delivered back-to-back hits, with Hunter extending his to a double by beating a throw at second base. Junior Hunter Schoo followed with a fielder's choice grounder that scored Bonn, and Trent Hunter scored on Key's sacrifice fly.
Orofino tied the late game in the bottom half of the third on a two-base error in center field, after Stephens had nearly pitched his way out of a first-and-second with no outs jam. Stephens escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the first, then erased a one-out double in the fifth, and survived a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth before Orofino booked four straight hits to tie it in the seventh.
Orofino snapped out of a 3-3 tie in the early game, which the Maniacs led 5-3 in the fifth. Orofino turned it into a blowout during the sixth, with a series of seeing-eye singles putting it out of reach.
Coming up, Grangeville will play for its second consecutive district baseball title Monday and Tuesday in Orofino, where the Bulldogs will play whichever team loses the Orofino-St. Maries tournament opener May 7. The tournament begins at noon, and the Bulldogs will play at 2:15 p.m.
[Ed's note (4:45 p.m. May 2): This article has been updated to include details on the district tournament schedule and to correct an inaccuracy in the information originally provided to the Free Press. In fact, the first day of tournament play is a round-robin with potential to determine which team will secure a state berth, which will face a play-in and which will be eliminated. If all teams are 1-1 after the first day of the district tournament on Monday, they will return to Orofino for elimination play on Tuesday. -ao]