Marsh Valley entered Friday’s 3A state baseball semifinals against South Fremont sporting some impressive offensive numbers.
The Eagles hit .431 as a team and averaged 12 runs per game on the way to the Southeast Idaho Conference title. Even so, the Cougars defeated the Eagles twice during the regular season, outhitting Marsh Valley and taking advantage of miscues and avoiding missed opportunities.
That wasn’t the case Friday. South Fremont struggled at the plate as Eagles starter Tanner Branson was sharp and the Marsh Valley defense did its part on the way to an 8-1 victory.
The loss sends South Fremont (22-6) into today’s third-place game at 1 p.m. at Melaleuca Field. Marsh Valley will play in the championship game at 4 p.m.
“We had runners in scoring position almost every inning and we just couldn’t get that big hit,” South Fremont coach Chad Hill said. “If you told me we would have 10 hits and only score one run, I’d of called you a liar.”
Marsh Valley (17-5) took an early lead, but the Cougars scored a run in the third on a single by Kyler Yancey to close to within 2-1. They missed an opportunity to add on, stranding runners on first and second with Branson striking out three straight to get out of the jam.
Marsh Valley’s Payton Campbell hit a shot off the centerfield wall in the fifth inning that rolled around on the warning track as Campbell sprinted around the bases for a two-run inside-the-park homer and a 4-1 Eagles lead. That was all of the cushion the Eagles needed.
“The biggest difference from last time is we had several errors,” Marsh Valley coach Kent Howell said of the previous losses to South Fremont. “You can’t do that against a good team. We knew we had to play clean to beat them.”
Even with the 10 hits, the Cougars left 10 hitters on base. Marsh Valley took advantage of a walk and stolen base to add another run in the sixth on an RBI double by James Bodily. The Eagles put the game away with a three-run seventh, scoring twice on bases-loaded walks and a sacrifice fly.
After about four games into the season, Hall said he and his staff figured this year might be special.
“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “It’s just awesome to see.”
MARSH VALLEY 8, SOUTH FREMONT 1
MV 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 – 8 13 1
SF 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 –1 10 1
MARSH VALLEY – Pitchers: Tanner Branson 6.2 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB; James Bodily 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB. Leading hitters: Andrew Anderson 2-3, Payton Campbell 2-3, Branson 2-4, Bronx Holbrook 2-3. 2B: Anderson, Bodily. HR: Campbell. RBI: Anderson 2, Bodily 2, Branson, Campbell 3.
SOUTH FREMONT – Pitchers: Kyler Yancey 6.0 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 K, 4 BB; German Gonzalez 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Bryan Popacatl 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 2 BB. Leading hitters: Kyler Yancey 2-4, Karter Yancey 2-4, Seth Klingler 2-3.2B: Payten Hollist, Kyler Yancey, Klingler, Popocatl. RBI: Kyler Yancey.
Allan Steele is Sports Editor of the Post Register. Reach him at 208 542-6772 and follow on Twitter at asteele12000