The graduating seniors hold up their first place trophy at the District tournament (left to right) Manager Preston Bird, Gaiden Combs, Chase Briggs, Dax Maroney, Stetson Higley, and Jaden Ward
The Dragon baseball team proudly held their first place trophy up high after they defeated the Bear Lake Bears in the championship game of the 2A District 5 tournament. Malad proved their talent as they defeated Bear Lake not once, but twice in the three team district bracket played out May 8 and 9.
While Malad has easily defeated the Bears before, the team has learned to not take a single game for granted and knows that each game plays an important role to their success as a team. The district tournament was a strong reminder of those key aspects of the game that makes a winning team.
In their opening game of the tournament, the Dragons were slow to get runs on the scoreboard. After two scoreless innings, Malad’s batters made a statement as they put seven runs across home plate in the third inning. Stetson Higley got the scoring going as he pounded a line drive double to left field with the count full and the bases loaded. Higley’s hit pushed in teammates Timmy Jensen, Josh Pickett, courtesy runner for pitcher Brady Showell, and Cael Seamons, courtesy runner for Gaiden Combs. Higley finished his way around the bases after Ryan Hubbard hit a single to center field. Hubbard, Chase Briggs, and Ryan Jensen added the final three scores for the inning over the next two plays.
The Bears tried to make an offensive go in the fourth inning but Malad’s defense was on their game. With two outs and two Bear Lake runners on base, left outfielder Briggs made a big defensive play to get the final out as Bear Lake’s runner was advancing home for a second run on the play. After scooping up a hard ground hit to left field, Briggs threw the ball to catcher Combs time enough to tag out the Bear Lake hitter to keep him from scoring and to get the third out of the inning.
Coming back to bat in the fourth inning, the Dragons added another five runs to round out their score. Jaden Ward, first in the batting order for the inning, got on base despite hitting a single to first base and then capitalized on an error to advance on to second. He then made it home after Showell hit a double to left field. Showell followed Ward in scoring as Combs hit a double to center field on the next play. Seamsons, once again running bases for Combs, scored as Ryan Jensen hit another double to center field, with Higley scoring on the same play. Ryan Jensen scored the final run of the game as Dax Maroney hit a single to center field.
The Dragons ended the game with a hard stop to the Bear Lake offense in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on first and second, Malad made a double play at second base as shortstop Maroney grabbed the line drive and simply stepped on base. In addition to forcing the out by beating the runner coming from first, Maroney made a second out as Bear Lake’s runner on second had failed to tag the base before heading to third, giving two outs for the price of one. Combs grabbed the final out of the game as he hustled to pick up a pop fly in foul territory on the hitter’s first pitch to end the game, 12-1.
Coach Clark praised his pitcher, Showell, for making quick work of the game, keeping the tempo up and the Bear batters on their toes. Showell threw 62 pitches in five innings, allowing a single run on two hits, striking out six batters, walking three and committing zero errors. Higley and Ryan Jensen together led the team in hitting with two runs on two hits on three at bats, with three RBIs each.
The two teams met up again the following afternoon for the championship game of the tournament. Over the seven inning game, Maroney had the only run in the game, scored in the first inning. After getting walked on base, Maroney stole second as Timmy Jensen was up to bat. As Jensen hit a ground ball in shortstop territory, Maroney rounded the bases to put up a run for Malad. The Dragons made good contact with the ball, but unfortunately popped it up well enough that the Bears could make the catch and get the out several times throughout the game.
Malad’s defense held off the Bears to keep their small lead as they completely shut down their offense. Higley led from the pitcher's mound, striking out nine of the twenty-five batters he faced. Over the seven innings he allowed only three hits and walked only one batter.
With the win over Bear Lake once again, the Dragons are advancing to the state tournament in Orofino, Idaho. The team will first play on Thursday, May 18 at 5 p.m. against Kellogg High School.