LEGION BASEBALL: With depth, this road could be a long one for Lums
JASON ELLIOTT/Press Coeur d'Alene Lumbermen pitcher Liam Paddack throws a pitch during the first game of the Class AA Area A (district) tournament on July 15 at Thorco Field. Coeur d'Alene opens at state today at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
By JASON ELLIOTT
The road to a state class AA American Legion baseball championship is a lot shorter than first-year Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen coach Darren Taylor remembers.
If that’s a good thing for the team that had to travel the farthest, we’ll find out this weekend.
Coeur d’Alene (26-8), which swept a best-of-5 Area A (district) tournament last week, opens at state today at 3 p.m. PST against the Twin Falls Blackhawks at the College of Southern Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene has four pitchers that have started at least five games, led by Troy Shepard with nine starts, Ryan Schneider with seven, Owen Benson with six and Liam Paddack with five.
“I think we’re going to have as good of starting pitching as anyone in the tournament,” Taylor said. “It looks like a long tournament from the loser’s bracket, but nobody would have to play six games to win the title.”
Shepard has won six games, Schneider four, Paddack and Cooper Erickson three each.
“We’ve had a lot of different guys step up throughout the season,” Taylor said. “It’s good to have that kind of depth going into a tournament like this.”
Taylor, a 1979 graduate of Coeur d’Alene High who played on the Lums’ lone regional qualifier, coached the Prairie Cardinal program from 1993 to 2000.
“It looks like nobody would have to play more than one game a day until the last day, which is different,” Taylor said. “It’s just a different format.”
Coeur d’Alene will have leading hitter Joe DuCoeur, who missed the Area A tournament with an illness back, along with Jackson Scherr, who missed the third game of the series after being struck with a bat while catching during the second game. DuCoeur is batting .419 on the season, followed by Scherr at .417. Marcus Manzardo leads the team with 35 runs batted in, followed by Cooper Larson with 28.
“Joe’s completely cleared and ready to go behind the plate if we need him,” Taylor said. “It will be nice to have his bat back in the lineup. Jackson was dealing with a nerve pinch, but said he’s good to go and should be at full strength.”
The Pocatello Runnin’ Rebels (23-13), winners of the 2020 AA tournament, open with the Nampa Chiefs (7-21-1) today at noon. Idaho Falls (31-9-1) opens with Blackfoot (7-18) today at 9 a.m., with Upper Valley (23-13) of Rexburg facing the Twin Falls Cowboys (23-11) tonight at 6. Due to many teams in the Boise area opting to field club teams this summer, that left Nampa as the lone team from that area to advance.
Coeur d’Alene beat Pocatello 10-9 in the opening round of the Treasure State Showdown in Bozeman on June 23. The state champion advances to the Northwest Regional tournament Aug. 4-9 in Gillette, Wyo.
“Everyone seems to be about the same,” Taylor said. “Back then (the Pocatello coach) thought they could beat Idaho Falls, Upper Valley and the Twin Falls Cowboys. We’ve just got to take it one step at a time. There’s a lot of work to do to get through a tournament like this.”
Idaho Falls won the Legion World Series in 2019, the last time the tournament was held. Regional and national tournaments were canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
STATE AA AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
At Skip Walker Field, Twin Falls
Game 1 — Idaho Falls Bandits (31-9-1) vs. Blackfoot Broncos (7-18), 9 a.m.
Game 2 — Nampa Chiefs (7-21-1) vs. Pocatello Runnin’ Rebels (23-13), noon
Game 3 — Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen (26-8) vs. Twin Falls Blackhawks, 3 p.m.
Game 4 — Upper Valley Bulldogs (23-13) vs. Twin Falls Cowboys (23-11), 6 p.m.
Game 5 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 9 a.m.
Game 6 — Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4, noon
Game 7 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 3, 3 p.m.
Game 8 — Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4, 6 p.m.
Game 9 — Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, noon
Game 10 — Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 3 p.m.
Game 11 — Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 6 p.m.
Game 12 — Winner Game 9 vs. Loser Game 11, 3 p.m.
Game 13 — Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 11, 6 p.m.
Game 14 — Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 3 p.m.
Game 15 — Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 15, 6 p.m. (if necessary)