POCATELLO — The Pocatello Runnin’ Rebels probably still have nightmares about facing Randon Hostert.
The Idaho Falls Bandits ace struck out 15 Pocatello batters in six innings last weekend, and it was Hostert on the mound again on Saturday, this time facing Pocatello for the American Legion Double A Area C Tournament title at Halliwell Park.
Hostert did his part Saturday, striking out 12, and the Bandits offense belted out 15 hits on the way to a 17-0 victory in five innings.
Hostert just missed a no-hitter, giving up a single to left to Pocatello’s Payton Cleaves with two out in the fifth.
“It would have been awesome to get, but at the end of the day we got the win and that’s all that matters,” said Hostert, noting his last no-hitter was during his freshman year in American Legion ball.
The game was in stark contrast to Friday’s semifinals, where the Bandits had to rally past the East Idaho Rockies in extra innings and eventually won on a walk-off homer by Jace Hanson in the 10th inning.
There was no such drama on Saturday.
Hostert had his breaking ball working and the Runnin’ Rebel hitters couldn’t adjust or catch up to his fastball.
“I was glad that we had some tightness (on Friday),” Bandits coach Ryan Alexander said. “I think that builds character for down the road … that kind of took us to (batting practice) today.”
The Bandits (46-5-1) scored twice in the first and twice in the second inning, building an early lead and forcing Pocatello to get into its bullpen. Idaho Falls put the game away with six runs in the third and added seven runs in the fourth. Hostert, meanwhile, cruised through the Pocatello lineup, striking out six of the first seven batters. The Runnin’ Rebels got two runners on base in the third, courtesy of a walk and a hit batter, but didn’t have another runner on base until Cleaves slapped a two-strike, two-out single to left to end the no-hit bid. Hostert struck out Dylan Jester looking to end the game.
“I think that’s one of the better games I’ve caught,” catcher Tavyn Lords said of Hostert’s performance.
Lords was one of four Bandit hitters with multiple hits. He finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Bruer Webster was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs and two runs and Hostert was 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Jaxon Sorenson was 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Ten different Bandits had RBIs.
“Any time you can do that with Randon on the mound it takes a little pressure off,” Alexander said of the early run support. “He relaxes and doesn’t feel like he has to be so perfect.”
“We’re team that thrives off of energy,” Lords said. “Today we had more energy. Yesterday we played a little more pressed and quiet. Today was just let loose and have a lot of fun. I think that’s big for our club going to state, too.”
The Bandits advance to the state tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons, but haven’t won a state championship since 2013.
Hostert said the bounce-back win was important going forward.
“That game (Friday) kind of refocused us, showed us we can’t be complacent and need to give it everything we got every game. Tonight was a good team win.”
The state tournament begins Wednesday in Lewiston.
IDAHO FALLS BANDITS 17, POCATELLO RUNNIN’ REBELS 0 (5 INNINGS)
Pocatello 000 00 — 0 1 2
Idaho Falls 22 67x — 17 15 0
POCATELLO —Pitchers: Wolfenberger 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Potter 0 IP+, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 K, 3 BB; Curtiss 1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 K, 1 BB; Cleaves 0 IP+, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB.
IDAHO FALLS — Pitchers: Randon Hostert 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 12 K, 1 BB. Leading hitters: Bruer Webster 2-3, Tavyn Lords 2-4, Hostert 3-4, Jaxon Sorenson 2-3. Leading hitters: 2B: Hostert, Webster. 3B: Lords 2. RBI: Caden Christensen 2 , Alex Cortez, Andrew Gregersen, Hostert, Lords 3, Willie Nelson, Sorenson, Easton Taylor 2, Tanner Webb, Webster 2.