FRUITLAND — The Snake River Panthers opened their 2013 3A state baseball tournament on Thursday afternoon and behind a complete game, 14 strikeout shut out by Zane Stephenson, the Panthers advanced to today's semi-finals with a 7-0 victory over Payette.
"Zane was a stud today," Snake River head coach Rich Dunn said. "We are a senior laden team and the kids looked pretty comfortable over here."
The game was a classic pitchers duel heading into the fourth inning as neither team were able to push a run across. Snake River broke that 0-0 tie in the home half of the fourth however as they pushed three runs across to take a 3-0 lead.
Nate Martin was a big cog in the Panther offense as he wore down the Payette starting pitcher with an at bat that Coach Dunn felt was a turning point in the contest.
"Nate was down 0-2 in the count and then faced 15 pitches until he went opposite away for a hit," coach Dunn said. "I feel like that was the turning point in the game for us because that sparked us at the plate and we followed with a rally."
Snake River played add on baseball over the fifth and sixth innings, scoring a trio of runs in the fifth and a lone run in the sixth to distance themselves from the Payette ball club.
Cole Hrabik was the big stick in the line up over that time as the sensational sophomore drove in 5 of the 7 Panther runs.
"Cole was huge," coach Dunn said. "He's the lone sophomore on the team and he didn't let the moment overwhelm him. He hit whatever they threw at him and didn't shy away from the moment. He really stepped up."
Snake River (18-2) will now face off with Kimberly today at 4 p.m. in the semi-finals. It's a match up of last years state semi-final, a game in which the Bulldogs prevailed over the Panthers.
"Kimberly (16-7) are a solid team," coach Dunn said. "We had a chance to watch them in the early game and they are as disciplined a team at the plate as I've seen. We will definitely have to earn it tomorrow but if we come out mentally prepared we hopefully can come out with the same results as today."