POCATELLO – Snake River Sr. Payton Brooks doesn’t identify with baseball’s father-son bond. For him, it’s a mother-to-son bond, a deep-rooted bond that began when his mother Brittany threw Payton straight onto the coaching pitch and then made sure he would never give up on the game. .
Payton moved from Blackfoot to Snake River after his freshman year, and struggled to change scenery enough that he thought about giving up baseball.
“We have to keep going,” Brittany told Payton. “You have been playing for a very long time.”
On Saturday afternoon, Payton stood by the Panthers’ dugout canoe and let out a smile so bright it would have given the sun a run for its money. After throwing a full set of seven innings to hoist Snake River to his first state tournament spot since 2015, the memories with his mother returned.
All the hours they spent together culminated in the exhilaration of Saturday.
“My mom really wanted me to be successful and she always insisted that I had to work hard,” Payton said. “Even after baseball practice, she was the one who caught my bullpens. It was I who threw it at him.
Brittany couldn’t find the right catching equipment for her but, determined to help her son, she bought some soccer shin guards and crouched 60 feet, six inches from Payton, letting him shoot. Brittany’s only request was to avoid throwing curved balls, fearing that a misfire would take an ugly bounce.
“It helped a lot. Really, it was just comfort, ”Payton said. “I felt comfortable playing with my mom and she was helping me, telling me to keep my head up. Even now when I throw I can hear him screaming in the stands telling me what to do.
Payton likely heard his mother bellow from the stands at Halliwell Park on Saturday, cheering on his son in Snake River’s 9-4 win over Filer in the state play-in game. In perhaps the greatest game of his career, the senior allowed nine hits and four earned runs while poking up a half-dozen, pitching on contact in an outing where he didn’t have his best tricks.
“His knowledge of baseball is through the roof. He’s a kid who can be said to have not only watched SportsCenter, but actually watched the games, ”said Snake River coach Rich Dunn. “His ability to handle a game and be aware of the situation is something you don’t see too often in eastern Idaho.”
Up to seven points down the seventh, Payton struggled, allowing four baserunners in the final frame. The situation never got dire enough that the game was in jeopardy but, trying to calm his ace, Dunn ran for the mound amid Payton’s troubles.
Dunn barely had to open his mouth.
“I know. Five six seven. I have to nibble with five and just pound the zone with six and seven,” Dunn Payton recalled telling him, referring to hitters coming in for Filer. “We didn’t post that or write that down. He knows exactly where we are and how to handle it.
Brooks also had three hits and was in one run in the Panthers’ victory, making him the only Snake River player to register more than one hit. The Panthers opened the game in the fourth when Cash Jensen lined up a two-run double down the center and Danny Wray smoked a two-run single only to leave a few shots later.
It’s no surprise that Snake River hasn’t competed in the State Tournament for six years. It’s hard to come out of a conference with a bid and a quarterback – especially one that includes Marsh Valley, the behemoth who won the 2019 state title and enters this tournament with a 25-0 record. Maybe that’s what made this race so special for Snake River, knowing how rare these seasons are.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been in some different sports a number of times, and baseball, but we have a program that has no children that has been in baseball,” said Dunn. . “We hope this will be the start of a new race.”
Snake River (12-10-1) plays Bonners Ferry in the 3A State Tournament at 1 p.m. Thursday at Fruitland HS.
SNAKE RIVER 9, FILTER 4
Snake River 001700 1 – 9 9 0
Depositor 002,000 2-4 9 2
Snake River – WP: Payton Brooks. 2B: Cash Jensen.
Filer – LP: Logan Lockwood. 2B: Jett VanBiezen.
BEAR LAKE 9, NORTH FRÉMONT 4
At Blackfoot, Bear Lake secured a berth in the state tournament after a 9-4 win over South Fremont in Saturday’s state play-in game.
Senior ace Owen Teuscher had a dozen strikeouts in his all-round performance. Teuscher, a flamethrower right-hander, has been spectacular all season but often has extremely slim margin for error.
Bear Lake launches a freshman and six sophomores, a young team that struggled to put points on the board. That’s part of the reason the Bears are only 6-15-2.
“I was pretty open and honest with the kids,” Bear Lake coach Craig Culver said. “My sophomores didn’t have a JV season so really we were a JV team on college ground. I tried to get this message across early and they bought into it. They continued to work.
Now, having finished second in District 5 in three-team 2A, the Bears are ready to declare. And while Teuscher should be on the mound against Nampa Christian in the first round of the State Tournament, who knows what could happen?
“Of course I have expectations,” Culver said. “I guess Nampa has seen pop, but Owen hits his spot and has amazing pop. And who knows who Nampa will launch.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain – but we are certainly going there to gain.”
Bear Lake (6-15-2) plays Nampa Christian in the State 2A Tournament at Halliwell Park Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
BEAR LAKE 9, NORTH FRÉMONT 4
North Fremont 300 100 0 – 4 3 5
Bear Lake 402030 x – 9 11 2
North Fremont – LP: Lanz.
Bear Lake – WP: Owen Teuscher. 2B: Matix Jacobson, Owen Teuscher, Tyler Wells