Arguably the best baseball conference in the state just got a little bit tighter.
If 4A District 6 isn’t the best in the state, it’s at least the most competitive. That was the case again Thursday night as Skyline rallied to defeat Idaho Falls 4-3 at Melaleuca Field, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic Tiger mistakes and perfecting a small-ball approach to overcome an early deficit.
With the win, the Grizzlies took over the top spot in the conference at 8-2 and Idaho Falls dropped to 7-2. Bonneville, after losing a three-game series to Idaho Falls last week, is a close third.
“It was important for these guys to understand they can compete with anybody,” Grizzlies coach Brett Taylor said, noting the competitive nature in the conference.
“Our conference, in my opinion, is deeper and better than any conference in the state.”
According to this week’s IdahoSports.com State Baseball Coaches’ Poll, Idaho Falls was ranked third in 4A behind Minico and Bishop Kelly, but received three first-place votes. Bonneville was fourth and Skyline and Blackfoot each received votes.
It may be premature to start evaluating potential state scenarios while teams are still battling in mid-April, but Skyline has proven itself resilient.
The Grizzlies trailed 3-0 in the second inning, but starter Brody Owens all but shut down the Idaho Falls lineup over the next four innings and Skyline’s lineup eventually broke through in the fourth. Logan Taggart worked a bases-loaded walk to score the first run, then the Grizzlies took advantage of an error, and followed with a bunt single by Cruz Taylor that scored Chandler Robinson to tie the game at 3-3. The go-ahead run scored on a passed ball.
“The kids were executing, understanding that sometimes you have to play small ball,” Taylor said. “We’ve executed that pretty well most of the season.”
“They had some timely hitting that ultimately ended up scoring a four-run inning which was all they needed,” Idaho Falls coach Trent Johnson said. “Offensively for us, we scattered some hits, but didn’t really get anything going.”
Idaho Falls had won 10 of its previous 11 games, but couldn’t rebound on Thursday, leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings. Owens struck out nine and gave up just four hits in six innings.
Taylor said he liked the makeup of his team as postseason positioning starts to heat up.
“It’s a tight-knit group,” he said, adding that most of the players came from other schools to play for a Skyline-area travel team when they were 13 and 14.
“It’s almost like a gathering of misfit toys,” Taylor said.
Skyline (12-4) and Idaho Falls (11-4) will play a doubleheader today at Melaleuca Field.
SKYLINE 4, IDAHO FALLS 3
Skyline 000 400 0 — 4 7 1
IF 030 000 0 — 3 4 2
SKYLINE — Pitchers: Brody Owens 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 9 K, 4 BB; Kayden Putnam 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB. Leading hitters: RBI: Logan Taggart, Cruz Taylor.
IDAHO FALLS — Pitchers: Cannon Thompson 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 K, 4 BB; Jaxon Sorenson 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB. Leading hitters: 2B: Thompson, Nate Rose. 3B: Braxton Ball. RBI: Rose, Zack Bridges.