AMERICAN FALLS — After a near disastrous first inning that witnessed the Bear Lake Bears push 7 runs across the plate, Snake River head coach James Carter told his assistant coaches that they would now see just how good they really were.
Apparently, the Panthers are pretty good as they rode the right arm of Zane Stephenson as they roared back for the 9-7 victory for their second straight conference title.
"I just couldn't be prouder of the way that these kids came back," Coach Carter said. "The guys just wouldn't quit and they swung the bats really well. They played hard and they should be proud of themselves for digging deep for this one."
The Bears jumped out to the quick 7-0 lead in an inning which witnessed 12 hitters stride to the plate as they racked up 5 hits and chased Snake River's starting pitcher from the game.
Stephenson entered with 2 outs in the first and slammed the door on the Bears as he scattered 2 hits over the next 6 2/3 innings for the win.
"I just worked hard throwing strikes and on shutting them down," Stephenson said. "It feels good. I know that I can do it and a day like this gives me confidence in myself. I hope we get some big wins at state."
Stephenson got great help behind him in the field as the Panthers played flawlessly on the defensive end as well.
Offensively, the Panthers struck back with a run in the bottom of the first inning as Adrian Castaneda came all the way around from first on a frozen rope RBI double off the bat of Bret Parkinson.
Parkinson was far from done on the evening however as he followed that up with a towering three run homer in the bottom of the second inning to pull the Panthers to within one run at 7-6.
Snake River regained the lead in the fourth inning when Parkinson walked with two outs and then came sprinting home when Travis Robertson crushed a two out RBI triple to the deepest portion of centerfield. Robertson then gave the Panthers the lead when Nate Martin reached base courtesy of a throwing error by the Bear Lake third baseman.
"It's fun to be able to repeat as district champions," Coach Carter said. "For years Bear Lake was the team to beat in the conference and for the past two seasons we've been able to step up and get it done."
With the win the Panthers improve their season record to 14-6 on the season and will begin play at the 3A state tournament next Thursday against an opponent yet to be determined.
"We're ready to go over. We've played some tough competition this year and we expect to see some good teams next week," Coach Carter said. "We won't take anyone lightly but we know what to expect after last year so we should be heading over focused and ready to see what we can do."
SNAKE RIVER 9, BEAR LAKE 7
Bear Lake 700 000 0 - 7 7 3
Snake River 150 210 - 9 8 1
Bear Lake - Jake Tilleson 2-4 2RBI, Nate Crane 1-3, Mitch Leundson 2-4 RBI; pitching - Tyrel Anderson (L) 7IP 9R 8H 9K 2BB.
Snake River - Bret Parkinson 2-4 HR 2B 4RBI 2R, Travis Robertson 2-4 3B RBI, Cash Cardona 2-3 2B 2SB, Cole Rushton 1-3 R RBI; pitching - Shane Parkinson 2/3IP 7R 4H 1K 3BB 1HP, Zane Stephenson (W) 6 1/3IP 0R 2H 6K 3BB 6HP.