IDAHO FALLS — The only thing that the Blackfoot baseball team wanted was a chance. A chance to compete for a state tournament bid that on Monday looked as if was going to be washed away with the soaking rain that pummeled Southeastern Idaho.
With the inclement weather, the sixth district considered canceling the post season tournament all together and send the regular season champion Bonneville squad to state to represent the district and the two seeded Hillcrest team to Saturday's play in game.
By Tuesday, the tone had changed somewhat and on Wednesday the Broncos got their chance, a game against Hillcrest with the winner claiming the second place finish and a play in game against either Skyview or Emmett on Saturday.
Blackfoot looked to make the most of that chance on Wednesday as they sprinted from the gates with 4 unearned runs in the first inning against Hillcrest's ace pitcher Kandall Moats as his defense committed three fielding errors in the opening frame.
"We came in on Monday and it's raining and at the coaches meeting they say it's a rain out and that's the end of the tournament and so the kids were really down," Blackfoot head coach Kenny Dahle said. "Then on Tuesday they say there is a chance to play so we get back up so it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. The kids came out and were ready to play, pushing those four runs across in the first inning and I think that that excitement carried over just a little too much."
Hillcrest eventually calmed down defensively while they went to work trying to solve Blackfoot starting pitcher Shawn Whitehead.
Whitehead held the Hillcrest bats at bay for the first two innings but a 3 run third brought the Knights to within one run of the Broncos and a 3 run fourth inning chased Whitehead from the game with Hillcrest leading 6-4.
"You got to tip your hat to Hillcrest, they came back and swung the bats well and they are a good team," coach Dahle said. "I definitely think that we are a better team, just not today."
Blackfoot had one last shot at taking down the Knights in the top of the seventh inning when Trae Pilster and Brakkin Leavitt each reached base with 2-out singles.
Whitehead strode to the plate representing the tying run and the clean up hitter put a mighty swing on an Ian Ence offering that rocketed towards center field. Unfortunately, that was the deepest part of Melaleuca Field and the Bronco season came to an end with a catch on the warning track by the Hillcrest center fielder.
"I'm just really proud of the kids and the way that they fought," coach Dahle said. "Like I told the kids after the game we took a step in the right direction with Blackfoot baseball. We can't go from where we were to the top in one leap and today we made a big step in the right direction."
Most of the Broncos will return to action on May 28 when they open the American Legion season on the road at Bonneville.
HILLCREST 7, BLACKFOOT 4
Blackfoot 400 000 0 - 4 4 2
Hillcrest 003 310 x - 7 10 3
Blackfoot hitters - Trae Pilster 1-3, Brakkin Leavitt 1-2, Shawn Whitehead 1-3, Cole Mansanarez 1-3; pitching - Shawn Whitehead (L) 3 1/2IP 6R 6ER 8H 3K 3BB 1HP, Jeremy Johnson 1 2/3IP 1R 0ER 2H 0K 0BB, Colby Pearson 1IP 0R 0ER 0H 0K 0BB
Hillcrest hitters - Colin Milton 2-3, Kendall Moats 2-3, Carson Grover 2-4; pitching - Kendall Moats (W) 4 1/3IP 4R 0ER 2H 3K 5BB 1HP, Ian Ence 2 2/3IP 0R 0ER 2H 2K 0BB