RATHDRUM — Sandpoint baseball’s seventh inning almost couldn’t have been scripted better.
In scene one: Tyler Lehman, fresh off pitching two strikeouts to hold Lakeland scoreless, hit a single that glances off shortstop Jaret Taylor’s glove. Taylor’s mistake makes the Sandpoint crowd start to believe.
In scene two: Senior Billy Brackett, who battled a season-limiting torn labrum all year, hits a single up the gap. Call up someone in Hollywood, because Sandpoint baseball might have a script.
In scene three: Senior Alex Stockton comes up to bat — the one athlete Lakeland couldn’t seem to contain across three different sports — came up to bat to finish what he started back in the fifth inning, in which he blasted an RBI-triple to the warning track in center field.
But that “almost” in sentence one is be a crucial, yet cruel, word.
Closing shot: A whiff prompts sends Lakeland players sprinting out of the dugout, Bulldogs hide their faces underneath their jerseys and the Hawks win the 4A Region 1 title, 5-4.
Yet the Bulldogs’ inherent desire to battle back, both in the three district tournament games and in the entire season, will be Sandpoint head coach Chase Tigert’s lasting impression of the seniors and the 2019 Bulldogs as a unit.
“This season, it would’ve been easy for us to roll over with the schedule we put together,” Tigert said. “But they didn’t. They continued to believe in our purpose and our vision; they got back up. And it was shown in this game. That’s all resiliency.”
In a series defined by lopsided wins, the third and final game was a back-and-forth affair. Lakeland only managed one multi-run inning, yet the Bulldogs responded with runs of their own. Both pitchers traded quick innings: Freshman Ethan Butler’s 11-pitch second inning stymied Lakeland, then Justin Dennison came through for the Hawks with three strikeouts in the seventh.
But the Hawks’ infielding proved to be the difference. Players like Taylor and Sean Tierney turned two double-plays and limited Sandpoint’s hits to mostly singles.
Sandpoint’s season ends with a 9-16 record (3-5 in conference play). The script will have to wait another year.
Sandpoint 200 110 0 — 4 13 1
Lakeland 102 110 X — 5 11 2
W — Dennison, 7, 5. L — Butler, 5, 3.
HITS: Sandpoint — Thielbahr 2, Lehman 2, Garcia 2, Brackett 3, MacDonald, Stockton. 2B — Macdonald. 3B — Stockton. Lakeland — Taylor 2, Aragon 2, Tierney, Silva 2, Grigg, Clift. 2B – Taylor, Dennison.