CALDWELL — It’s been a rough decade and a half for the Vallivue baseball team. The last time it made the state tournament was in 2001.
But the Falcons took a big step forward in ending their postseason drought Thursday night. They downed 4A Southern Idaho Conference perennial power Bishop Kelly 9-5 to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Coming into this season, the Knights have made the playoffs seven consecutive years.
“I’m super proud of these guys,” Vallivue coach Justin Schneidt said. “They played their butts off tonight and beat a really good BK team.
“I think we’re a really good team. The 4A SIC is tough, but if we play good baseball, I think we can make a run to give ourselves a chance at the end.”
Junior Jake Daniel had a double and three RBIs, while sophomore Cobe Lehman also had three RBIs to go along with a hit. Daniel and Lehman were one of six different batters to record a hit, as Vallivue finished with six total hits. Senior Auggie Valdez picked up the win on the hill, pitching a complete game with four strikeouts.
The Falcons (7-7, 2-2 4A SIC) took advantage of a plethora of Bishop Kelly errors to jump out to a 5-0 lead after three innings. The Knights committed five errors through the first three innings, leading to four Vallivue unearned runs.
After Bishop Kelly rallied back with three runs in the top of the fourth and another run in the fifth, Vallivue got the bats going in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Valdez singled to left field on a hard hit ground ball to lead off the inning, while Daniel finished it with a three-run double down the left field line, putting the Falcons back up by five at 9-4.
“I just hit the ball,” Daniel said with a laugh. “Zach Gipson was talking to me before I went up to bat and told me, ‘it would be nice for me to run into a double.’ And that’s what I did.”
Vallivue is back in the 4A SIC for the first time in 10 years. Following the split with Ridgevue, it lost two starters, but still return four to a team that believes this is the year the streak ends.
“Our ultimate goal is state and I think we can do it,” Valdez said. “We’re really young, but we’re scrappy and want it more than anyone else. If we were to make it, it would be a big stepping stone for the years to come.”