IDAHO FALLS — It’s an odd thing for the defending champs to assume the role of David.
But after seniors graduated, bones splintered and breaks broke bad, the Pocatello Indians were David reincarnated as a baseball team facing mighty Goliath, the undefeated Bonneville Bees.
At times, Poky appeared primed for an upset but fielding errors undid the Indians, and the Bees escaped to win the 4A Fifth-Sixth District championship 11-3 Wednesday at Melaleuca Field.
“We’ll be OK. We can either go fold our tents or go get to the state tournament,” said Pocatello head coach Vinnie Benavidez. “We said from the beginning of the year, we don’t play for district championships. We play for state championships.”
With the district title, Bonneville’s fourth straight, the Bees have secured a slot to the state tournament at Bishop Kelly High School next week.
Pocatello has to play Blackfoot today in Idaho Falls for the district’s second state berth.
“We’re in a good spot right now with how we’re playing,” Benavidez said. “We’re playing with intensity. We’re playing with excitement, and if we can come do that again tomorrow we’ll be OK.”
To stay close to Bonneville, the Indians had to play with a fierce attitude. The Bees are 23-0 and outscore opponents by nearly 10 runs a game.
But for four innings, starting Poky pitcher Wes Ryan and Braxton Carpenter, who entered in the third, subdued Bonneville’s lethal lineup.
The Bees’ leadoff hitter, Lincoln Clayton, smashed a home run to left field in the second inning — his third of the tournament — and Jaxon Bird’s RBI single sent Tanner Smith over home plate.
That was it, however, until the fifth inning. And offensively, Pocatello hitters found some success against Bonneville’s ace, Kohl Hostert, a University of Oregon baseball commit.
“We made him throw a lot of pitches and we made him throw strikes,” Benavidez said.
The Indians were patient, forcing Hostert to hit his spots. The first time Pocatello and Bonneville faced off, Hostert struck out 17.
“Kohl didn’t have his best stuff,” said Bonneville head coach Joldy Watts. “Probably his worst of the year.”
Not only did Hostert lack his usual sharpness, but the defense behind him committed a season-high five errors.
Poky’s Matt Cose scored the Indians’ first run on a passed ball and Josh Holmes’ infield single jetted Daehan Jang to home for a second run.
A dropped third strike by Bonneville’s catcher in the fourth inning was the start of three successive errors that ended with Holmes racing to home for the Indians’ third and final run.
“The one inning was baffling,” Watts said. “That’s all I can say. I wanted to get mad, I wanted to get upset but it’s not like they’re trying to make errors.”
The most the Bees had given up this year with Hostert on the mound is three runs.
If errors haunted Bonneville early, they troubled Pocatello late.
The Bees scored eight of their 11 runs in the fifth and sixth innings and that’s where Indians finished with five of their six errors.
Hostert, despite the struggles, threw a full seven innings and struck out 11 while giving up five hits.
“We battled through and (our) offense hung around long enough to score runs in the end and win a baseball game,” Watt said.
Offensively, Jaxon Bird led the way for Bonneville going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Josh Holmes of the Indians was 2-for-3 with an RBI and one run scored.
For a trip to state, Pocatello (14-11) and Blackfoot kick off at 4:30 p.m.
Bonneville 11, Pocatello 3
Pocatello 020 100 0 — 3 5 6
Bonneville 120 035 x — 11 10 5
Pocatello — Wes Ryan, Braxton Carpenter (3), Bradeon Nalley (6) and Chase Teter. Bonneville — Kohl Hostert and Clay Smith. 2B — Lincoln Clayton (B), Jake Holcomb (B), Jaxon Bird (B), Chance Reese (B). 3B — Jalen Fuhriman (B). HR — Lincoln Clayton (B).