TWIN FALLS — Five consecutive months of baseball ended Saturday for members of the Twin Falls Cowboys.
The Idaho Falls Bandits beat the Cowboys 7-4 in a legion Double-A state loser-out game Saturday at Skip Walker Field. Barring something unforeseen, Saturday was only a temporary conclusion for every player on Twin Falls’ roster.
“I’m really proud of these four seniors,” Cowboys head coach Tim Stadelmeir said. “Those guys accomplished a lot. They were good leaders between the lines. They played hard. They knew how to compete and come up big when the moment was there.”
The Cowboys opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the second inning, but they never led after that. The Bandits tagged Ryan Eller for four runs in the top of the third and two more runs an inning later.
Eller allowed six earned runs on nine hits, two walks and a strikeout in seven innings pitched.
“I started leaving the ball up, and they took advantage,” Eller said.
Twin scored two runs in the fifth and one in the ninth, but could never sustain a rally like the Bandits did in the third and fourth. Other than third baseman/reliever Aaron Brann, who went 3-for-4 with a walk, Twin’s bats were mostly quiet.
Saturday’s season-ending loss was Twin’s second straight, and both defeats were to loaded teams. Lewis & Clark, which beat the Cowboys 5-3 on Friday night, is made up of players from several schools in northern Idaho. The Bandits have the best players from four Idaho Falls high schools, plus a college sophomore (pitcher/first baseman Brandon Bialas).
Brann, Eller, Skylar Holcomb and Ryan Nolan were the seniors on this year’s Cowboys’ roster, and all four are signed to play at the next level.
Brann will play third base at Phoenix Community College, and he departs for Arizona on Wednesday.
“Haven’t packed yet,” Brann said after Saturday’s game. “My mom’s on me about that.”
Eller will pitch at Walla Walla Community College. Nolan had signed to play at Walla Walla, as well, but he changed course about a month ago. Now, Nolan is set to join Holcomb at CSI. Nolan, who play middle infield, listed money and potential for playing time among the reasons he changed schools.
“I’m an average player, but I worked hard,” Nolan said. “I can step back today and say I gave it my all.”
Holcomb signed with the Golden Eagles as a pitcher, but he didn’t see the mound at all this week. A bone spur in his left elbow prevented him from pitching the last few weeks, he said, and it nearly kept him off the field entirely. Wednesday’s state tournament-opener was Holcomb’s first game action in more than two weeks.
“I was really disappointed. I really wanted to throw,” Holcomb said. “It’s kinda sad, but kinda exciting at the same time. I get to come to CSI and play.”
Holcomb said his arm will be reevaluated this week.
The seniors were mostly in good spirits immediately after Saturday’s game. The finality had barely sunk in by the time Saturday’s game ended, and their high school baseball memories overshadowed the fizzled finish. Just two months ago, they won a 4A state championship for Twin Falls High School.
But the state title wasn’t truly their last high school game. Saturday’s game was, and the seniors couldn’t help but feel a bit of melancholy.
“It’s a little bit harder now,” Nolan said. “I’m never gonna wear a Twin Falls uniform again.”
Idaho Falls Bandits 7, Twin Falls Cowboys 4
Idaho Falls 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 1 0 — 7 11 0
Twin Falls 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 — 4 9 3
Idaho Falls: Pitching — Bryson Tibbits (W) 8.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 BB; Austin Staker (S) 0.1 IP, 0 R.
Leading hitters — Thomas Alexander 3-5, 2B, RBI, R; Randon Hostert 2-3, HBP, R; Andrew Gregersen 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R; Brandon Bialas 1-4, 2B, HBP, RBI.
Twin Falls: Pitching — Ryan Eller (L) 7 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Aaron Brann 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
Leading hitters — Brann 3-4, BB, RBI; Anthony Scholes 1-4, 2B, BB, R; Ryan Nolan 1-4, BB, RBI, R; Connor Root 1-4, 3B, R; Carson Walters 2-4.