Bulldogs face Hawks today for state berth
By ERIC PLUMMER
SANDPOINT — A lot of pressure falls on the shoulders of the starting pitcher of a loser-out game, and senior Sydney Bottomley stepped up and delivered, allowing just one hit in 6 2/3 strong innings while striking out six, leading the No. 2 seed Bulldogs to a 5-3 win over No. 3 Moscow in the 4A Region 1 baseball tournament opener on Tuesday at sun-soaked Pine St. Field.
Caleb Edlund provided some offensive punch with a double and triple among his team-high three hits, and Bottomley added the game-winning two RBI single for the Bulldogs (9-8), who extended their season another game.
After a pair of first inning errors staked the Bears to a 2-0 lead, Bottomley shut down the opposition with a solid mix of a two-seam fastball and change up, inducing a lot of routine ground balls and pop ups.
“I kept it low and they just grounded it out,” said Bottomley, who also delivered arguably the biggest hit of the game. “I was down 0-2, he threw me a curve ball down the middle. I just tried to put it in play and get some runs in.”
Trailing 2-0, the Bulldogs evened the score after an Edlund double and a sac fly from Trey Flint. The Bears answered in the top of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead, as the pressure mounted because one team knew it was going home.
A three run fifth inning changed all of that after Edlund led off the inning with a triple, then scored on an RBI single from Flint to make it 3-3. Freshman Tyler Lehman kept the rally going with a single, then scored with Flint after Bottomley blooped a ball down the right field line for the go-ahead runs.
Aside from a tough first inning, it was a clean baseball game played by the Bulldogs, who didn’t play tight like teams often can with their season on the line. First year head coach Chase Tigert chalked the win up to his team’s attitude.
“We had fun. We had confidence and didn’t get down,” he said. “We trusted ourselves and enjoyed playing baseball.”
The Bulldogs benefited from two double plays, one started by busy shortstop Billy Brackett, and another turned in when Alex Stockton caught a fly ball in right and doubled up the runner with a laser beam to first. Wes Holland entered the game in the seventh and earned a one-pitch save to end the game after the Bears were threatening late.
Bottomley did a couple things that winning pitchers often do, namely limiting walks and let the defense work behind him. Tigert had high praise for the work of his senior.
“That was an incredibly impressive performance. He took control of that game,” said Tigert. “He continued to go after guys and attack hitters. He worked his tail off all year.”
Tigert also praised the hot bat of Edlund, who was spraying balls all over the field.
“He got up to the plate and didn’t try to do to much, just let his hands work,” described Tigert. “When he does that, the ball flies.”
Sandpoint will travel south to face No. 1 seed Lakeland today in the championship game, with the winner heading to state. The teams split 2-2 in league play, and Tigert feels his team simply has to take the same approach as it did with Moscow.
“Not put too much added pressure on ourselves,” he said. “Play our game, do what we do, and everything will be fine.”
The championship game was moved up a day with wet weather forecast for Thursday. First pitch is 4 p.m. at Lakeland High School.
Moscow 200 100 0 — 3 1 2
Sandpoint 002 030 x — 5 10 2
Glenn Gosse and Tristan Wilson; Sydney Bottomley, Wes Holland (7) and Nick Holland. W — Bottomley (2-3). L — Gosse.
HITS: Mos — Gosse. Spt — Shaffer, Brackett 2, Edlund 3, Flint 2, Bottomley 2. 2B — Edlund. 3B — Edlund.