Close call at First

Emmett Blue Devil Jayden Carter attempts the tag for a first base pick-off against Nampa in Legion baseball action Saturday at Pat Daniels Field in Emmett.

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You could say that the baseball season is just heating up in Emmett but that would be a bad pun. Emmett’s summer baseball programs are finding the final weeks of their seasons either concluding or getting prepared for post-season play, despite the heat.

For the Emmett American Legion baseball program, three teams are working their way through a heavy summer schedule, with the team with generally the oldest players — the Blue Devils — eyeing a State tournament possibility.

The Blue Devils participate in the Treasure Valley’s A League. Legion baseball plays at three levels in Idaho: AA which includes older players, some who may even have completed a year of college ball, and is composed primarily of metropolitan teams. A is the league that has limited seniors and Emmett usually does not have spring graduates participating. B league is for younger kids who have outgrown the little league program (though a few have played both u13 and B league this summer.)

Emmett this year has the pleasure of having enough kids participating in Legion baseball to field two B league level teams — the Blue Devils and the newest Halos.

The B league teams play most of their home games on the large diamond at the Gem Island Sports Complex, though over the next couple of weeks they will actually face off against each other and those games have been shifted to Emmett High and Pat Daniels Field. The A team Devils play their home games at EHS.

There aren’t any of those home games left, however, for the Blue Devils, as they are cruising into District play this weekend with a solid shot at advancing to State in Lewiston, July 26-30.

The Blue Devils displayed a range of ways to win last week, sweeping three games to improve to 7-2 on the season and 5-1 in A League play.

Emmett blew away Payette early in the week, 13-3, in a non-conference game and then posted the same score and result a night later against Melba in a league affair.

Saturday morning the Blue Devils avenged their lone conference loss of the season against the Nampa Braves in a rather peculiar fashion. Emmett had lost a 10-9 eight inning decision at Nampa earlier in the season and had hoped to jump out on the visitors like they had in their previous two outings.

It was Nampa, however, who jumped out quickly, scoring three in the top of the first. Emmett countered with two in the bottom of the opening frame but looked in trouble down 5-2 going into the sixth inning. A single tally in the bottom of that inning, however, set the table for a hit-less walk-off rally.

The Blue Devils showed patience rather than panic in the seventh, working Nampa pitching for five walks and a hit batsman with no one out to win 6-5. An effective if anti-climatic conclusion to their home season.

The Blue Devils conclude their regular season on the road at Payette on Tuesday and then will travel to Homedale for the A League conference tournament beginning Friday, July 16. The double elimination tournament will determine the Treasure Valley representatives to Lewiston with a title game on July 19 or July 20 if necessary.

While the Devils have their eye set on State, the Blue Angels and Halos still have two weeks of league play to go — including both season meetings between the new in-city rivals.

They will go face-to-face on Saturday, July 17 at 2 p.m. and again on Wednesday, July 28 at 6 p.m.

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