Prior to starting an all-important stretch of five conference games in five days, the Scarlets hung their title hopes in the Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers/Make-A-Wish Foundation tournament on inexperienced pitching and tired bats.
Idaho Falls, in turn, feasted on the Scarlets for a 9-1 championship victory Tuesday at Dehler Park.
Outfielders Jalen Garcia and Jackson Cobb, each pitching for the first time this season, couldn’t contain an Idaho Falls offense that smashed seven extra-base hits. The Giants’ Jalen Fuhriman, who was a thorn in the side of both the Scarlets and Royals on Tuesday, tripled, homered and drove in three runs.
“We just asked (Garcia and Cobb) to throw strikes and they did, but the ball got hit,” said Scarlets coach Adam Hust, whose team travels to Missoula on Wednesday. “They know the big picture. They knew their role was to suck it up today and fill that spot so we have a guy rested and ready for tomorrow.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Fuhriman pitched a three-hitter in a 12-3 victory over the Royals to propel the Giants to the championship game. Against the Scarlets, he tripled in two runs to give Idaho Falls the lead in the first, and homered on Garcia’s hanging curveball in the third to make it a 6-0 game.
Fuhriman is the oldest player on the Giants roster, and will play at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., this coming season. He has hit three home runs at Dehler Park the past two summers.
“I like big outfields and big parks,” Fuhriman said. “At home, it’s almost the same dimensions. I see a lot of green and I go for it as hard as I can.”
The Scarlets advanced to the championship with a 6-0 victory over Gillette, Wyo., earlier Tuesday. That came on the heels of an extra-inning triumph over Dickinson, N.D., late Monday night.
Against Idaho Falls, Billings scored its only run on Cobb’s RBI single in the third.
The Giants “are a veteran club,” Hust said. “Big, strong, physical kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see them down the line in a regional. Hopefully we’re there and get another crack at them.
"I think if we're 100 percent healthy and don't have four starters on the bench and have fresh arms ready to go, I think we give them a run."
Idaho Falls’ Tyson Craig was awarded the tournament MVP award. Craig hit three home runs over the course of five days.
The Scarlets’ game in Missoula on Wednesday is the first of two against the Mavericks. Then they head to Kalispell for a doubleheader on Friday and return home to play another doubleheader with Great Falls on Sunday.