IDAHO FALLS — The number was one on Thursday night for the Blackfoot Broncos as they stood one game away from the coveted berth into the state tournament. One team stood in their way and at the end of seven innings of hard fought baseball, one run prevented the Broncos from fulfilling their season long goal as they fell 9-8 to the Knights of Hillcrest at Melalueca Field.
"One more out," Blackfoot head coach Kenny Dahle said. "We made a huge step as a program. We were one out from getting into the state tournament. These kids battled all year long, they battled all day today. I'm proud of them and I think that our program is heading in the right direction."
Hillcrest looked as if they were going to turn the ball game into a laugher as they took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and eventually built a commanding 9-3 lead after a four run fourth and a three run sixth inning.
Blackfoot were undaunted in their quest however as they mounted a furious seventh inning comeback attempt.
Cody Evans ignited the uprising with a screaming line drive double over the left fielders head. Cole Mansanarez followed with a single which was followed by a fielding miscue by the Hillcrest Knights which allowed Evans to score and Colby Pearson to reach first base.
One out later Justin Mathie plated Evans and Pearson with a 2RBI single, taking second base on the throw to the plate. Colton Fairchild followed with an RBI single to score Mathie which was followed by an RBI double off the bat of Jaron Katseanes which pulled the score to 9-8 with Katseanes standing on second with the tying run.
"You know a lot of fans got up and left after Hillcrest's big inning because they probably thought that the game was over," Coach Dahle said. "Like I've told these kids though, it's not how you start but how you finish and I just couldn't be prouder of these kids and how hard they fought. I would go to battle with anyone of these kids. I just couldn't have asked for anything more from them."
The valiant comeback attempt stalled one batter later as the Knights completed a bang-bang play at first, relegating the Broncos to a third place finish on the season.
Cole Mansanarez, Colby Pearson and Jaron Katseanes each had multi hit games for the Broncos with Mansanerez and Katseanes each picking up doubles on the afternoon.
The majority of the Broncos will begin their American Legion season on May 30 with a double header beginning at 4 P.M.
HILLCREST 9, BLACKFOOT 8
Blackfoot 000 120 5 - 8 10 2
Hillcrest 200 403 x - 9 12 4
Blackfoot - Cody Evans 1-4 2B R, Cole Mansanarez 2-3 2B 2RBI 2R, Colby Pearson 3-4, Justin Mathie 1-4 RBI R, Colton Fairchild 1-4 RBI R, Jaron Katseanes 2-2 2B RBI; pithing - Shawn Whitehead 3 1/3IP 5R 5H 0K 4BB 1WP, Colby Pearson 2IP 4R 5H 1K 0BB, Cody Evans 2/3IP 0R 1H 0K 2BB.
Hillcrest - Nathon Elliott 2-3 2B, Ian Ence 3-3 3B 3RBI, Luke Barnes 3-3 R; pitching - Conner Van Orden 6 2/3IP 8R 10H 3K 1BB, Tyler Parkerson 1/3IP 0R 0H 0K 0BB 1HP.