KIMBERLY — The symmetry put a smile on Braden Coronado’s face.
Coronado stood at shortstop as a freshman when his Kimberly High School baseball team sealed a win over Filer in the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference title game. Three years later, on Friday, Coronado once again stood at shortstop. And once again, the Bulldogs beat Filer to win the district title.
Back in 2014, Kimberly captured its fourth straight SCIC title with a 10-0 win over Filer. This time around, the Wildcats were the two-time reigning champions going into Friday, and they went 2-2 against Kimberly in the regular season. But one big inning and one big pitching performance ensured the trophy would go back to the Bulldogs.
“Not going to state the last two years kinda got us going,” Kimberly junior Lars Christiansen said.
Christiansen can’t conjure up the same memories as Coronado; he was an eighth grader in 2014. He’d prefer to forget his subsequent high school baseball memories.
While Filer celebrated two straight district title crowns, Kimberly fell short of state. Last year, the Bulldogs lost in a state play-in game, which Christiansen missed because of a concussion.
The junior wasn’t going to be denied this time.
The final result, however, didn’t look so certain after the first inning.
With one out in the top of the first, Christiansen allowed a single to Austyn Sherman and a double to Cooper Moon. The double, plus a miscue in left field, drove in Sherman. With two outs and Moon standing on third, Christiansen struck out A.J. Mayer. The damage was limited, but it made a mark.
“I’m not gonna lie, I was scared after the first inning,” Christiansen said.
Two straight scoreless half innings set the tone for a pitcher’s duel between Christiansen and Sherman. In fact, only one right-hander would finish with a sterling pitching line, and it wasn’t Sherman. Christiansen made sure of that on the mound and at the plate.
With no outs and two on first in the bottom of the second, Christiansen rocketed a pitch to left field. It one-hopped the wall and scored Coronado to tie the game.
From there, the floodgates opened. An error, a double, a walk and a single led to four more runs. With two outs, Coronado strode back up to the plate. He barreled Sherman’s 31st pitch of the inning to center field, where it hit the warming track and bounced over the fence for a ground rule double.
Coronado flexed and yelled toward the bench as the sixth and final run of the inning scored. The one-run deficit felt ages in the past.
“It’s one run,” Coronado said. “We can score that in our dreams.”
Kimberly added a run in each of the next three innings, but none were necessary. Christiansen silenced the Wildcats. He allowed two earned runs on six hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. He also went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
“I was really pumped when I saw I got to throw in 80-plus degrees,” Christensen said. “My arm hasn’t felt this good. ... I just felt more loose.”
The final play of the SCIC championship was a lineout to Coronado, who threw to first complete a double play.
“I threw it, and there were just chills,” Coronado said. “It’s been so long since we’ve done this.”
Kimberly tallied 13 hits and drew six walks in the game, while committing just one error.
The Bulldogs (18-4) get to relax for 12 days until they play another game. They’ll face the second seed out of District 3 in the first round of the 3A state tournament, which will be held at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon.
“It’s really nice to take the easy way there finally,” Coronado said. “If we keep going on a roll, I think we have a good shot at the first place trophy.”
Filer (14-10) plays Buhl on Tuesday in a loser-out, winner-to-state-play-in game. The team that wins Tuesday will play the play-in game on Thursday.
Kimberly 9, Filer 2
Filer 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 2 6 3
Kimberly 0 6 1 1 1 0 X — 9 13 1
Filer: Pitching — Austyn Sherman (L) 3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K; Preston Waters 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K; Kyle Sanford 2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Leading hitters — Cooper Moon 2-2, 2B, BB, RBI; Sanford 1-2, 2B, BB, 2 SB, R; Zach Easterday 1-2, 2 SB.
Kimberly: Pitching — Lars Christiansen (W) 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
Leading hitters — Riley Morfin 2-5, 2B, 3 SB, RBI, R; Mason Egbert 0-1, 2 BB, HBP, 2 RBI, 2 R; Christiansen 2-3, 2B, BB, RBI, R; Brycian Taylor 3-4, RBI; Dawson Cummins 1-2, 2 BB, RBI, R; Braden Coronado 1-4, 2B, RBI, R.