IDAHO FALLS — The Blackfoot Bronco baseball squad punched their ticket to the state tournament on Thursday evening, their first trip to the big dance since 2001, as they avenged an earlier loss to the Pocatello Indians with a 8-5 victory.
"After we lost the first game with Pocatello we just told the kids to relax and focus because we still needed two wins to get to state no matter how we did it," Blackfoot head coach Kenny Dahle said. "We felt that we were in a good position with our arms. We were confident that we could get it done and that's what we did."
Pocatello came out blazing in the first inning as they ripped a trio of doubles in the opening frame for an early 3-0 lead. Back came Blackfoot in the top of the second however as they answered with three runs of their own to knot the game at 3-3 as Dillon Mansanarez answered with a 2RBI double of his own.
"We were a bit nervous coming in so we told them to just relax and to get those three runs back in the second inning was huge, really the turning point of the ball game right there," coach Dahle said.
The game then settled into a pitching duel as Mansanarez battled with Pocatello starting pitcher Matt Cose, matching zero's across the board until Blackfoot took the lead for good with a run the top of the sixth.
"As a sophomore, Dillon came in and did a good job of focusing and getting the job done," coach Dahle said.
Justin Mathie led off the sixth by wearing a pitch, moving to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by Russel Osborn. Mansanarez then collected his third RBI of the day with a base knock to center as the Blackfoot faithful cheered the 4-3 lead.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth, Blackfoot then went to work on adding insurance runs in the seventh inning. Cody Evans started the rally with a one out single which was followed by a single by Zach Later. A walk to Cole Mansanarez loaded the bases, chasing the Pocatello pitcher from the game.
After a brief warm up, Colby Pearson then strode to the plate and the senior answered the call with a screaming line drive over the left field fence for a grand slam and the 8-3 lead.
"Huge at bat. I took Colby aside and told him to relax. We knew what he [pitcher] was about. We knew that he liked to throw a lot of breaking balls and I told Colby to just look for his pitch and don't miss it and he didn't miss it," coach Dahle said. "A key hit tonight that we haven't been getting here late in the season and it was nice to get this win."
The runs proved to be needed as Pocatello picked up two runs in the bottom of the seventh before finally succumbing to the Broncos.
"We've come so close the last three years and finally we got a break and did it," Colby Pearson said. "I was shaking up there and I got ahead in the count and knew that he had to come to me. I was looking for a fastball. I wasn't swinging at anything else and he came with a fastball in just the right spot and I just got my hands out there in time."
Blackfoot (14-8) will open the state tournament against the top seed from the 3rd district on Thursday, May 16. First pitch will be at 1 p.m. at Bishop Kelly High School.
BLACKFOOT 8, POCATELLO 5
Blackfoot 030 001 4 - 8 11 1
Pocatello 300 000 2 - 5 7 3
Blackfoot hitters - Cody Evans 2-4, Zach Later 2-4 2B, Colby Pearson 2-4 HR 4RBI, Justin Mathie 1-3, Cole Mansanarez 1-3, Russel Osborn 1-3, Dillon Mansanarez 2-3 2B 3RBI. pitching - Dillon Mansanarez (W) 7IP 5R 5ER 7H 7K 7BB HP.
Pocatello hitters - J. Holmes 2-4 2B, A. Burkenshaw 2-3 2B, W. Ryan 2-3 (2)2B 3RBI, J. Stiffler 1-2 2B 2RBI. pitching - Matt Cose (L) 6 1/3IP 7R 7ER 10H 2K 1BB HP, Josh Holmes 2/3IP 1R 1ER 1H 1K 0BB.