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Ace pitcher, big inning lift Bees past Columbia in state opener

Bonneville High School’s Thomas Alexander was overpowering in the Bees’ 6-1 win over Columbia in the first round of the 5A state baseball tournament Thursday at Borah High School. Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

By JORDAN RODRIGUEZ
prsports@postregister.com

BOISE — It took a while for the Bonneville Bees’ offense to wake up at Thursday’s 5A baseball state tournament opener.

The way senior pitcher Thomas Alexander was dealing, it hardly mattered. Alexander struck out 14 batters in a three-hit masterpiece, propelling the Bees to a 6-1 victory over Columbia at Borah High School’s Wigle Field.

The Bees (22-7) advance to play Rocky Mountain in a 6 p.m. semifinal Friday.

“Honestly, today was probably the best my off-speed stuff has worked all year,” Alexander said. “We started out a little slow, but being able to settle myself down and pitch well in those situations was big. Once the bats started rolling, it was easy from there.”

Columbia grabbed a 1-0 lead courtesy of a fourth-inning RBI single. But once Bonneville’s offense arrived, it came in a deluge.

Bruer Webster led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and came all the way around to score on Tavyn Lords’ sacrifice bunt. Webster sped toward third as Lords was thrown out at first, drawing an errant throw that allowed the speedy sophomore infielder to scamper home for the tying run.

The floodgates opened from there. Caden Christensen followed with a one-out single, racing home when senior slugger Dalton Virgil blasted a double off the wall in right-center.

Dalton Virgil drove in one run and scored another in Bonneville’s six-run fifth inning against Columbia in the first round of the 5A state baseball tournament Thursday at Borah High School. Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

“We’re a young team, and we need senior leadership in games like these,” Virgil said. “I’m glad I was able to step up for my team in that situation. After that, the hitting was contagious.”

It certainly was. Alexander and Randon Hostert followed Virgil’s go-ahead hit with consecutive RBI singles to make it 4-1, and Tom Roybal capped the rally with a two-run double to left-center.

When the dust settled, the Bees had batted around — and given their pitcher a commanding 6-1 lead.

“He really located his fastball today,” Bonneville coach Joldy Watts said of his senior ace. “With that velocity and his location, it’s going to be tough to hit him.”

Alexander only allowed one groundball single and two infield hits. He hit one batter and walked none.
Meanwhile, all nine Bonneville batters recorded at least one hit, led by Virgil and Christensen with two apiece.

Junior pitcher Jordan Forrester took the loss for Columbia. Catcher Carson Brown drove in the Wildcats’ only run by beating out an infield hit.

BONNEVILLE 6, COLUMBIA 1
Columbia 000 100 0 — 1 3 1
Bonneville 000 060 x — 6 11 0
COLUMBIA (11-17) — Jordan Forrester (L), Braden Ray (5), Kyle Gabel (6) and Carson Brown. SO:BB—Forrester 2-1, Ray 0-0, Gabel 0-2. Hitting—Garrett Turner 1-3, Adrian Crain 1-3, Brown 1-3. RBI—Brown.
BONNEVILLE (22-7) — Thomas Alexander (W) and Easton Dahlberg. SO:BB—Alexander 14-0. Hitting: Tavyn Lords 1-2, Caden Christensen 2-4, Dalton Virgil 2-4, Alexander 1-3, Randon Hostert 1-4, Conner Witbeck 1-1, Jordan Perez 1-3, Tom Roybal 1-3, Bruer Webster 1-3. 2B—Virgil, Roybal. RBI—Roybal 2, Virgil, Alexander, Hostert.

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