Treasure Valley teams won three of the four first-round games at the 5A baseball state tournament Thursday, continuing the region’s dominant streak at the state’s highest level.
Middleton, Mountain View and Owyhee all advanced to the semifinals. Only Lake City’s mercy-rule victory over Eagle prevented the 5A Southern Idaho Conference from taking all four spots in the semifinals for the fourth straight year.
The semifinal matchups Friday at Caldwell’s Wolfe Field will be:
No. 2 Middleton (23-5) vs. No. 6 Lake City (20-6), 4 p.m.
No. 1 Owyhee (21-4) vs. No. 4 Mountain View (16-11), 6:30 p.m.
Below is a recap of all four first-round games Thursday.
5A BASEBALL STATE TOURNAMENT
MIDDLETON 2, TIMBERLINE 1: Isaiah Anzaldua glanced back to the Middleton dugout as he approached the plate, flashed a knowing smile, and saw a row of Vikings smiling right back at him.
A week after delivering the Vikings a district title with a walk-off hit, the Middleton senior ripped another walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning Thursday.
“It’s deja vu all over again,” Middleton senior Robert Orloski said. “It’s crazy. He’s just meant for the moment.”
Anzaldua ripped a first-pitch walk-off single last week in the third and final game of the district championship. This time, he fought his way through an eight-pitch at-bat before lifting a sharp single to center field.
“I had all the confidence in the world,” Anzaldua said. “There was not a doubt in my mind. 3-2, 0-2, it didn’t matter.”
The walk-off single capped an unusual comeback for the second-ranked Vikings (23-5), who are in their first season as a 5A program. Trailing 1-0 and down to their final out in the seventh, Orloski freelanced a play common on Little League fields throughout the country, and it paid off to force extra innings.
He casually strolled off first base, forcing a rundown and trying to create a distraction to allow Elijah Wilson to steal home. Timberline didn’t fall for it, firing a throw to cut down Wilson at home plate by 3 feet. But catcher Talon Holen dropped the ball as he made the tag, and the tying run scored.
“I just thought it was a good idea,” Orloski said. “We ran it against Eagle early in the season, and it worked. I just thought if we’re going to go down, we might as well go down with a fight.
“... It was a little crazy, but it worked out. That’s all that matters.”
The crafty rundown added to another dominant outing from Orloski on the mound. The potential MLB draft pick struck out 14 while holding Timberline (16-10) to one run on three hits through eight innings.
Treyton Swygart picked up the win in relief, throwing two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out four.
The loss derailed No. 7 Timberline’s underdog postseason run. The eight-time state champ had to win a play-in game just to qualify for the district tournament, but it won four in a row to punch its ticket and entered as one of Idaho’s hottest teams.
The Wolves face Eagle at 10 a.m. Friday at Wolfe Field in the consolation bracket.
LAKE CITY 13, EAGLE 0: The Timberwolves (20-6) batted around in the fourth and sixth innings, invoking the mercy rule in a first-round game.
No. 6 Lake City’s Jake Dannenberg and Eric Bumbaugh each delivered two-run singles in an eight-run fourth inning. The Timberwolves took advantage of eight walks issued by Eagle pitchers, and it preserved ace Cooper Reese’s pitch count, allowing him to return Saturday for a full 110 pitches.
Ian Duarte led No. 3 Eagle (16-9), going 2-for-3 with a double.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 7, HIGHLAND 0: Mavericks ace Conner Marshall danced in and out of trouble all afternoon, surrendering eight hits and allowing a baserunner in every inning. But he made the key pitches when he needed to, and his defense bailed him out of a couple hairy situations in a complete-game shutout.
“He’s a bulldog,” Mountain View (16-11) coach Justin Schneidt said. “He doesn’t give in. My hat’s off to him. He threw a great game.
“But we did have the two really good double plays mixed in there, Cade Burnham played a stellar shortstop, and Evan Perry played a really good third base.”
Marshall escaped his first jam in the second inning after Highland loaded the bases. He induced a ground ball to Burnham to end the inning, and Mountain View pounced with a four-run inning in the bottom half of the frame to permanently clinch momentum.
Carson Lupton drew first blood with a two-run single up the middle, Burnham scored on a wild pitch and Will Grizzle added an RBI single as the Mavericks found the clutch hits Marshall denied the No. 5 Rams (17-11).
Mountain View added three runs in the fifth. Jaxon Cron provided the key hit in that frame with a two-run single up the middle.
“We took advantage of some miscues, and we had the right guys to slot the plate in the right spots,” Schneidt said.
The win sends No. 4 Mountain View to the state semifinals for the fourth straight year, earning a rematch with No. 1 Owyhee. The Storm upset then-No. 1 Mountain View 2-1 in the semifinals last year, thanks in part to a controversial strike three call with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning.
OWYHEE 4, LEWISTON 0: Nursing a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, Owyhee (21-4) turned to its closer a bit early in the game. And Jack Ryan delivered again.
Ryan calmly retired three straight batters after a leadoff double to open that inning, the start of three scoreless frames to salt away the defending state champ’s first-round victory.
The pressure of the situation — tying run on second, nobody out and little time to warm up — would weigh on many. But not Ryan.
“He’s kind of Mr. No Fear on the mound,” Owyhee coach Russ Wright said. “That’s his best asset. He really believes that he’s going to win.
“His stuff, it’s not electric stuff. It’s not (Middleton pitcher) Robert Orloski stuff. But he makes it play.”
Ryan’s fearless escape act ignited the Owyhee offense, which responded with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth. Gage Haws, Nate Keith and Nick McDaniel hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles as the Storm punished Lewiston (16-13) once again for giving them extra outs.
McDaniel made the Bengals pay the first time after he reached on an error in the second inning. He promptly stole second base. And when no one covered the bag as Lewiston catcher Tyler Granlund tried to throw him out, he took third on the error.
A Keagan Kelly sacrifice fly brought him home seconds later, allowing Owyhee to score without a single hit.
The damage continued in the fifth, when an error put Cole Rohlmeier on base and brought up the heart of Owyhee’s lineup.
“Our team’s dangerous like that,” Haws said. “That’s what we thrive off. We take anything the opponent gives us.
“... All those little things, we pride ourselves on those, because we know that baseball is a funny sport. You’re not always going to be hitting the ball out of the yard, so you’ve got to take opportunities where you can get them.”