RUPERT – The first of the eight teams that were invited to the Idaho American Legion AA Baseball Tournament were eliminated as the Blackfoot Broncos dispatched the South Fremont Cougars by a score of 6-4 and the Skyline Grizzlies sent the Madison Cats home for the rest of the summer with a 5-4 decision.
The Grizzlies and Bobcats got the Tuesday action going in the 10 a.m. game at the Minico Spartans’ field and it was a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings as the Grizzlies’ Cruz Taylor and Madison’s Isaac Walker matched zeroes on the scoreboard.
Madison finally got to Taylor in the fifth inning when they scored a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead.
Walker was able to notch another scoreless inning from the mound in the bottom half of the fifth and the two teams went to the sixth inning with the score still at 2-0 in favor of Madison.
Taylor showed that he wasn’t finished on the mound, shutting out Madison for another inning before giving way to the relief corps in the top of the seventh inning.
The bottom of the sixth is where the Grizzlies first showed some signs of life offensively as they scraped together enough to push a run across the plate to make the score 2-1 as the two teams headed to the seventh inning.
That is when things really got a bit dicey for Skyline. Madison worked reliever Landon Merzlock for a pair of runs and opened up a 4-1 lead on the Grizzlies as the two teams headed to the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Grizzlies were having none of it as they worked and scrapped and dug in when in the batter’s box. The end result was four big runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the contest by the final of 5-4 and stay alive in the tournament.
Trey Olson led the Grizzlies with a pair of hits and three runs batted in during the contest while Cruz Taylor was the pitching hero, keeping the Grizzlies in the game for his six innings on the mound.
In the second game on Wednesday, the Blackfoot Broncos found themselves playing the South Fremont Cougars for the second time in eight days, having fallen to the Cougars a week ago on Monday by the score of 6-4.
Tuesday was beginning to look a lot like that game, as the Broncos gave up single runs in the first four innings, two of them without the benefit of a hit. By the time the Broncos got to the bottom of the fourth, they were trailing by a 4-1 score and things were beginning to look a bit bleak.
That is when the Broncos dug in and made the most of the situation by scoring two runs on only two hits and crept closer. You could feel the momentum changing as it shifted from being squarely on the shoulders of the Cougars to the Broncos’ dugout.
When starting pitcher Candon Dahle walked the first batter he faced in the fifth inning, a reliever was summoned by coach Zach Reay and in came Nate Goodwin, the team’s starting third baseman.
All Goodwin was able to do was work through three innings of play without giving up a run. He may have only had a single strikeout, but he made a couple of good fielding plays from the mound and enticed the Cougars’ hitters to hit the ball right at one of his own fielders and the teams went to the bottom of the sixth with the score still 4-3 in favor of South Fremont.
Leadoff hitter Stryker Wood beat out an infield single and when Kyler Mills was able to turn a sacrifice bunt into a hit, the Broncos had things going their way. By the time they were done, they had scored three times to take the lead at 6-4 and with Goodwin on the mound, it was as good as done.
Goodwin retired the side in order in the top of the seventh and the Broncos were still alive, moving to a Wednesday afternoon matchup where they played another elimination game.