Payton Cleaves Runnin Rebels

Pocatello Runnin Rebels shortstop Payton Cleaves gloves a ground ball during a game July 18 against Upper Valley at Halliwell Park.

DOUBLE-A STATE TOURNAMENT

When: July 26-30

Where: Lewis-Clark state college

Format: Double-elimination

After a five-day break from the grueling and seemingly endless American Legion baseball schedule, the Pocatello Runnin Rebels are back on the diamond Friday at the Double-A state tournament in Lewiston.

The squad made its trek to north Idaho as one of three representatives from Area C at this year’s eight-team state tournament, along with the Idaho Falls Bandits and East Idaho Rockies.

“We’ve been pretty focused. They understand what’s at stake,” Runnin Rebels coach Nick Sorrell said Thursday. “Everyone seems focused and dialed in and understand their roles, their responsibilities going forward. I’m excited, they’re excited, that’s what it’s all about.”

The No. 2-seeded Runnin Rebels (31-17) last played Saturday in the Area C championship game, a 17-0, five-inning loss to the Bandits. Sorrell said his team has been able to flush its losses this summer. Its only losing streak longer than two games was a three-game skid June 8-10, and two of those losses were against Idaho Falls.

“They understand what it’s all about,” Sorrell said. “With baseball, you have a new opportunity almost every single day, especially in Legion, so you can’t let things linger from the past.”

Pocatello’s first-round opponent is the Rocky Mountain Avalanche, Friday at 5:30 p.m. MDT. The teams played a doubleheader back on June 1 in Meridian, a 7-6, 13-3 sweep for the Runnin Rebels.

Eben Curtiss Runnin Rebels

Pocatello Runnin Rebels' Eben Curtiss (right) tries to avoid the tag at second base during a game July 18 against Upper Valley at Halliwell Park.

“They’ve always got good players,” Sorrell said of the Avalanche. “They’re well-coached, they’re disciplined, they hit well. It’s a typical Rocky team. They’re a 1 seed for a reason.”

And although the long trip to Lewiston took the Runnin Rebels two days by bus, road trips have favored the team this season. Pocatello is 19-10 away from Halliwell Park (.655 winning percentage), compared to 12-7 at home (.632).

Plus, the tournament’s true double-elimination format means a team that loses its opening game can still win out and claim the championship.

“I told my guys at the beginning of the year: we want to play the best of the best,” Sorrell said. “We have an opportunity do to so if everything works out.”