Sometimes even the heavily favored teams in loser-out games don’t play as well as they should.
Case in point was the Coeur d’Alene High baseball team Thursday. In a loser-is-done scenario, though, a win is more important than style.
Coeur d’Alene overcame some tense moments to dismiss Post Falls 7-4 in a 5A Region I elimination game at Ted Page Field.
The Vikings (20-7) take on the District III fifth-place team, Mountain View (15-15), in a play-in game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lewiston’s Church Field. The winner earns a state berth.
CdA 7, Post Falls 4: It was the Vikings’ 14th win in as many tries at home and fifth in five games against Post Falls. But victory didn’t come without some drama.
“It’s a spooky situation because your season comes down to one game and it’s hard to beat a team five games in a row,” CdA coach Nick Rook said. “It’s even probably harder if you’re supposed to beat them.”
The Trojans (10-17) held a brief 2-0 lead and they didn’t lose touch with CdA until the end.
“We battled,” Post Falls coach Mick Zeller said. “We had three mistakes on the bases that cost us at least two runs possibly a third. Missed opportunities … not getting the timely hits.”
The Trojans showed grit early. They scored two runs in the first inning and probably could have had more if not for a base-running mistake.
The lead was short-lived. CdA packaged four hits around a walk to score three in its half of the first.
In the second, CdA’s Devon Austin had a run-scoring double. Austin, who is hitting a team-leading .560, went 2 for 2 and tied school records for doubles (12) and hits (47).
Post Falls committed three of its five errors in the third, allowing a CdA run.
Brett Winn pulled the Trojans within 5-4 with a run-scoring groundout in the fourth.
The Vikings squelched the Trojans’ upset hopes in the sixth when J.J. Turbin, who had three hits, knocked in a run and Austin had a sacrifice fly.
“I think we were definitely playing tight,” Turbin said. “Post Falls definitely came out to play. (But) I felt us panicking a lot in the middle innings, because we hadn’t played them this close all year really. We finally started relaxing a little more and that helped a lot.”
CdA is seeking its first trip to state since 2001.
“Sometimes kids play not to lose instead of playing to win,” Rook said. “I don’t think we necessarily did that today. It’s one of those days. You just have to struggle through it.”
Rook thought most of his team’s struggles were at the plate.
“Our approach … was questionable,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away from Post Falls, because they played well.”
Zeller wants to see more of his players commit to summer ball.
“We just have to turn the corner,” Zeller said. “We’ve got to play more in the summer. Maybe it’s something in the water out there (Post Falls). Or maybe that’s it – they want to go play in the water rather than playing baseball. I don’t know.”
4A Region I: Rain forced postponement a second straight day. Sandpoint and Moscow will try to play again today at Moscow, beginning at 4.
3A District I-II: The visiting teams prevailed in a pair of loser-out games.
No. 6 seed St. Maries (7-14) slipped past No. 3 Timberlake (9-14) 12-11 in eight innings at Spirit Lake while No. 5 Kellogg (9-10) topped No. 4 Priest River (6-12) 12-5.
In Kellog’s victory, Kyle Kenser had three hits and four RBIs while Tyler Groth added two hits, including a two-run homer.
Derek Tweedy’s sacrifice fly brought in Marc Grubbham with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning in the Lumberjacks’ win over Timberlake. Grubbham, who was 3 for 5, and Matt Corsi had back-to-back singles and advanced on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt before Tweedy’s fly ball.
Double-elimination play begins today at Orofino when St. Maries takes on No. 2 Bonners Ferry (14-8) at 5, followed by Kellogg meeting No. 1 Orofino (18-3) at 7.
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