BOISE - A year after a surprise run to last year’s state baseball finals, the Columbia High baseball team pulled off another stunner Thursday night.
The Wildcats snapped top-ranked Middleton’s 19-game winning streak - the longest in the state- with an extra innings 5-1 come-from-behind win in the Class 4A District III championship game at Bishop Kelly High School.
It also earned them the first district title in their 16 years of existence.
Now Columbia (19-7) will have to wait to find out what its seed is and who it will play in next week’s state tournament. But it does know the venue - the same place where it made unexpected magic Thursday.
"It’s awesome to be part of this, especially with kids I’ve grown up playing baseball with since we were 9 years old," junior catcher Isaac Antunes said. "We’re all excited to hold the district plaque, but we understand that’s not the end goal. We want to win state, and we want to prove Columbia baseball is here."
It was another big step forward in the program’s recent resurgence.
Following a state championship in its inaugural season in 2007, the Wildcats failed to produce another winning season until last year. And even that wasn’t all too impressive - at first. They dropped their first five games of the season before qualifying for state through the play-in game with a 13-11 record.
But Columbia went on a Cinderella run to the finals before falling to 4A SIC rival Bishop Kelly, 5-1.
"A surprise for everybody else, not for us," junior pitcher Caden Campa said. "We knew we were good enough to play."
A mentality that carried over into this season with six returners.
The Wildcats didn’t lose more than back-to-back games, and posted winning streaks of three or more five times, including a five-game winning streak during the middle of the season.
But there was still another item to cross off the list - beat Middleton.