POCATELLO — Buoyed by efficient pitching and a stellar defensive performance in the outfield, the Pocatello Razorbacks edged the Malad Dragons 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Halliwell Park to win the 2020 Wood Bat Classic tournament.
Brody Burch pitched a complete game for the Razorbacks and protected a slim 4-3 lead by retiring the final six Malad hitters to secure the tournament title.
“Brody was amazing,” Razorbacks skipper Jason Jones said. “He didn’t walk a single guy, and that’s something we’ve been struggling with as a pitching staff.
“Then our bats stayed patient, we adjusted our approaches to our at-bats and the kids took care of the rest.”
All four Razorback runs came in the fourth inning.
With the Dragons ahead 1-0 after a third-inning sacrifice fly by John Evans, the Razorback offense finally came to life after managing only two baserunners through the first three frames. With two outs and runners on second and third, Aaron Kearns put the Razorbacks on the board and tied the score with an RBI single.
Luke Davis then smoked a liner up the third-base line which the Dragons third baseman could not corral, driving in Mason Fullmer and putting the Razorbacks up 2-1. A hard-hit ball to center by Deakon Blackhawk drove in two more to put the Razorbacks on top 4-1.
The Dragons made things interesting in the bottom of the fifth. A hard-hit single to left field by Isaiah Finlayson drove in one run, and the Razorbacks were late covering home plate, allowing a second run to score and making the score 4-3.
But the Razorbacks’ defense more than made up for the snafu just one batter later, with center fielder Scott Baker making a full-speed running catch of Trever Howe’s drive to end the inning and preserve the lead. Pocatello outfielders made two more stellar catches over the next two innings, helping Burch retire the Dragons in order in both the sixth and seventh inning to clinch the championship.
The clutch performance in a tight game was the second such affair in as many days for Jones’ squad.
Trailing 9-5 to their crosstown rival, the Pocatello Rebels, and down to their final out on Saturday night, the Razorbacks cobbled together 6 runs — one run at a time — to take an 11-9 lead and eventually win by the same score. That game advanced them to the championship.
Jones said he was very pleased with his team’s poise and resilience in the face of adversity, especially this early in the season.
“The players didn’t panic,” Jones said. “We watched our team mature and come together through adversity. We faced a lot of adversity with playing top teams, playing from behind and coming back to win games late. That gives us a lot of confidence going into the stretch run of our district play with expectations of a state bid and the ultimate goal of winning a state championship in July.”
Finlayson matched Burch’s complete-game effort, throwing all seven innings for Malad.
The Razorbacks (9-2) will be in action again Tuesday afternoon, heading approximately 20 miles up I-15 for a doubleheader with Blackfoot A at Blackfoot High School. Game 1 is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m.
Malad (5-1) plays at Declo on Thursday.
POCATELLO RAZORBACKS 4, MALAD DRAGONS 3
Pocatello 000 400 0 — 4 5 0
Malad 001 020 0 — 3 7 0
Pocatello — WP: Brody Burch.
Malad — LP: Isaiah Finlayson. 2B: Tanner Olsen.