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Viks reach championship

CdA advances after wild 20-13 victory

BOISE – After a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Eagle in the first round of the Idaho 5A State baseball tournament, the Coeur d’Alene Vikings delivered an unlikely encore Friday evening in the semifinals with a 20-13 victory over the Madison Bobcats at Hawks Stadium.

CdA play Timberline for the title at Hawks Stadium at 6 p.m.

Vikings starting pitcher Devin Kluss experienced incredible ups and downs. He was staked to a 3-0 first inning lead, struck out looking with the bases loaded, misplayed two line drives in center field – all before he capped CdA’s comeback with a two-out, two-run double as part of his 4-for-5 performance at the plate.

“It was the worst of the worst and the best of the best all in one night,” said Kluss, who recorded only one out before being pulled from the mound in the first inning but also added three extra-base hits at the plate. “I just put too much pressure on myself, thinking I had to be perfect for our team. I wanted to be perfect for our team.”

The sophomore struggled to get a grip in the first inning – literally. He dropped two balls in mid-delivery with runners on third, giving Madison two runs as a result of a balk.

But, eventually, Kluss settled down.

“After that first inning, Coach (Nick) Rook just pulled me aside and told me to hit the ball hard,” Kluss said. “So, I just tried to do that and not think about anything else.”

That advice redeemed Kluss’ night and may have saved the Vikings’ season.

“I’m proud of how our kids kept battling back,” Rook said. “You wonder how many times you can escape situations like we had tonight. But they just never quit.”

The Vikings’ staggering offensive box score included 19 base hits, nine extra-base hits, at least two runs in every inning – and 13 runners stranded as CdA left the bases loaded three times. Every starter in the lineup had at least one RBI.

More impressive was the fact that 14 of the Vikings’ 20 runs came with two outs.

CdA pulled within 7-5 in the top of the second on an RBI double by Levi Pereira and a sacrifice fly by Nick Nyquist.

In the bottom of the second, the Bobcats stormed back with four more runs to lead 11-5.

But CdA kept chipping away, scoring four runs in the third and two runs in the fourth to knot the score at 11.

Then in the top of the fifth, CdA finally retook its short-lived first-inning lead when Kluss belted a two-run double to the gap to give the Vikings a 13-11 lead. He later scored on a single by Alec Barrowcliff.

Madison fought back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 14-13.

Then CdA put the game away with two runs in the sixth and four in the seventh.

Logan Brastrup, who pitched the seventh inning in relief on Thursday to pick up the win for the Vikings, earned the victory with 4 1/3 innings of relief.

Leading CdA, along with Kluss, was Pereira, who was 3 for 4 with three RBIs and four runs, and Sean Sutton, 4 for 6 with four RBIs and a pair of doubles.

3A: Host Fruitland beat Priest River 14-1. Priest River will play Kimberly today for third place.

2A: Nampa Christian scored six runs in the top of the seventh and stunned St. Maries 6-5 at Rodeo Park in Nampa, Idaho. St. Maries and New Plymouth will play today for third place.