KIMBERLY — The Kimberly High School baseball team used ace pitching and heads-up baserunning to ease past Gooding on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs threw two five-inning no-hitters to open the season with a pair of Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference wins, 10-0 and 15-0.
Senior right-handed pitcher Lars Christiansen swept through the Senators lineup in the first game, striking out 12 batters in five innings of work. His five innings weren’t perfect, though, as he allowed a walk in the third.
Christiansen said he hit the bullpen every Sunday during the offseason to prep himself for his first start this season, and he knew he had the feel to pitch as well as he did today.
“I honestly was ready to throw a no-hitter,” he said. “I came in, and I said I wanted to strike every single kid out. I blew that with the first at-bat, but 12 out of 15 is pretty good.”
Kimberly assistant coach Troy Morfin said Christiansen is a reliable workhorse in his rotation that he can rely on to keep walks to a minimum.
“Even last year, Lars has been known for his accuracy,” Morfin said. “We tell him a spot to hit, (and) he hits that spot 99 percent of the time.”
The Bulldogs gave their ace run support early, following up one run in the first inning with a seven-run second frame, which featured a pair of doubles by Tristyn O’Donnell and Nate Stover that brought two runs in each.
Braxton Hammond had a solid first game at the plate, batting 2-for-3 and knocking in three runs.
The second game featured an unusual switch of position.
Sophomore Dawson Cummins, who caught for Christiansen in the first game, traveled the 60 feet and six inches to the mound and gave Gooding no fewer problems at the plate.
Cummins rang up 10 batters in his five-inning performance, issuing a single walk and hitting a batter. He was a threat at the plate again, going 1-for-3 with his two outs plating runs.
After scoring six runs in the first three frames, the Bulldogs order went big in the fourth inning, plating nine runs. That frame included a five-batter hit streak in holes two through seven, finished off by Shae Coston, who stepped in as a pinch hitter to blast a two-run-scoring double.
But it wasn’t just the bats that made runs come easy. Kimberly was also smart in the base paths, stealing 19 bases across the doubleheader.
“We’re very big with these kids on the mental aspect of baseball,” Morfin said. “We tell them to pick up on kids’ errors and take advantage of them. Baserunning is one of those areas we’re going to be very aggressive with.”
Twenty-five runs, twenty-two strikeouts and nineteen stolen bases. Is there anything to work on for the Bulldogs?
“Honestly, we wish we hit better,” Morfin said. “We had one kid that struck out looking, which for us, in baseball, is an absolutely no. We had one inning where the bases were loaded and we didn’t bring in any of those guys. So leaving guys stranded and not being able to score any of them, it’s tough to do.”
Christiansen echoed his coach’s opinion, but also said he thinks more games will bring more confidence for the Kimberly hitters as they get in the groove of the season.
“The junior class that’s coming in, they’re a bunch of really good hitters,” he said. “When we get going and we see some more live pitching, I think we’re going to kick everybody’s butt.”
This spring will likely be a learning experience for Gooding, which is in its first season as a varsity team as a co-op with Shoshone. The Senators fielded a junior varsity team last year.
Correction: A previous version of this article listed Troy Morfin as the head coach of the Kimberly baseball team. He is the assistant coach. We regret the error.