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Minico declaws, defeats Idaho Falls 3-1 in 4A opening round

Idaho Falls’ Dillon Lenon reacts after losing to Minico High School 3-1 during the opening round of the 4A state baseball tournament at Melaleuca Field on Thursday, May 17, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark
Loroark@postregister.com

The energy at Melaleuca Field quickly evaporated thanks to two hits from Minico’s Drake Miller.

That’s all it took: two hits.

After Miller’s RBI single in the top of the fifth scored Carson Schow and his second RBI dribbled and chipped into the right field gaps two frames later, Idaho Falls’ season-long aspirations slipped away Thursday in the opening round of the 4A state tournament. The Tigers’ body language slumped as soon as Miller’s insurance run split between first baseman Paul Wilson and second baseman Benson Packer.

At their home field. Prime time. Favorited to go deep in this year’s 4A state playoffs, a year after finishing state runner-up.

All dashed — thanks to Miller’s two-RBI day and six strikeouts on the mound, as Minico upset 4A favorite Idaho Falls 3-1 on the road.

“The main thing is, you have to be bigger than the moment,” Miller said after the game. “I feel like I did that pretty well … Once I hit first base, I was jacked. I knew these guys were going to keep the line moving, keep the train going.”

Minico players celebrate after closing the fourth inning as Idaho Falls High School takes on Minico High School during the opening round of the 4A state baseball tournament at Melaleuca Field on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Minico defeated the Tigers 3-1. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

A 0-0 outing late into fifth inning, the stalemate was broken after Miller’s RBI single hovered over Wilson’s head to score Schow. The Spartans then took a 2-run lead thanks to a sac fly which scored Ryan Chandler the next at-bat.

Idaho Falls responded in the bottom of the frame with Caden White’s leadoff double, who then scored thanks to a Jackson Madsen RBI single to centerfield.

But Miller responded in the top of the seventh, scoring Schow once again. Schow led all batter Thursday 3 for 4.

Idaho Falls’ got Zack Bridges to second with one out left in the game, but Madsen grounded out for the final out — eventually tossing his bat in frustration.

“There’s a reason why a lot of ranking systems have them number one in the state,” Idaho Falls coach Pat Lloyd said. “There’s a reason for that. They’re a good ball club. Our guys battled, Logan pitched numerous guys on base, like you said … We just didn’t quite get it done offensively today like we can and that’s what happens.

“It’s baseball,” he added.

A close game throughout, it was only a matter of time before the Spartans broke open the game. Minico threatened Idaho Falls pitcher Logan Ferguson with runners in scoring position during each inning. Mostly utilizing small ball tactics, the Spartans outhit the Tigers 11-6.

Idaho Falls kept afloat thanks to impressive defense, including a diving catch from left fielder Dillon Lenon in the top of the first and shortstop Cannon Thompson’s hustling to track down a left field foul ball in the middle innings.

Idaho Falls’ Paul Wilson beats out Minico’s Colter May to first base as Idaho Falls High School takes on Minico High School during the opening round of the 4A state baseball tournament at Melaleuca Field on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Minico defeated the Tigers 3-1. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

In another jam during the top of the fourth, the Tigers caught runner McKay Chandler in a pickle before Ferguson struck out Colter May to maintain a shutout.

Ferguson struck out three in his first loss of the season (6-1).

But as the Spartans kept gathering hits and putting runners in scoring position, the Tigers’ usually potent offense registered a three 1-2-3 outings against Miller. Miller, who has an ERA of 0.56, finished with six hits in seven innings pitched.

The heart of I.F.’s lineup (3-5) finished 1-9.

“The guys went out and we competed. Yeah, we’re all heartbroken right now,” said Lloyd, who’s in his final year coaching the Tigers before taking over as Idaho Falls’ athletic director next fall. “But we still have a chance at the consolation championship, some hardware, that’s why you play the game. It’s gonna hurt tonight. It will hurt for about 12 hours and then tomorow we turn around and get ready to go again.”

Idaho Falls will play Sandpoint at 1 p.m. today at Melaleuca Field.

MINICO 3, IDAHO FALLS 1

Minico 000 021 0 — 3 11 0

Idaho Falls 000 010 0 — 2 6 1

MINICO — Pitchers: Drake Miller 7 IP, 89 P, 6 H, R, ER, 6 K. Leading hitters: Drake Miller 2-4, 2 RBIs; Carson Schow 3-4, 2B, 2 R; McKay Chandler 2-4; Nicky Caldera 2-3.

IDAHO FALLS — Pitchers: Logan Ferguson 7 IP, 81 P, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 K. Leading hitters: Paul Wilson 2-3, Caden White 1-3, 2B; Jackson Madsen 1-3, RBI.

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