The Orofino baseball team's goal has been achieved

May 24—The Orofino Maniacs ran wild on their competition this season to claim their first Idaho Class 2A state baseball title in a decade.

Orofino's 25 wins and 12.33 runs per game were state-highs. The Maniacs also allowed the third-lowest amount of runs per game in Class 2A, surrendering just 3.81 runs per outing.

"Honestly, I don't know what to say," Orofino coach Scotty Tondevold said. "These guys have been working toward this goal for four years, and they knew they had a chance to do something special and won themselves a state title."

Early season dominance

The Maniacs were utterly dominant in the early part of their campaign, winning 12 consecutive games, including two victories over Genesee and Colton by a combined score of 77-0.

In that span, Orofino recorded three shutouts and held their opponents to three or fewer runs six times.

The Maniacs also demonstrated their ability to win close games, beating Bonners Ferry 8-7 in their season opener and overcoming Clarkston 3-2 in a 10-inning thriller on March 21.

"One of our best games of the season was against Clarkston," Tondevold said. "They were a solid club and used two great pitchers, Hayden Line and Trace Green. ... That was a really talented Clarkston team, and we showed up to play that day — both teams had a shot to win. Being in those situations was huge for us. You're facing very competitive pitching that's as good or better at the 2A state level."

Orofino's winning streak ended on April 13 when they lost the second game of a doubleheader to Marsing by a score of 7-4.

The Maniacs went on to win 11 of their final 12 games, with their only loss coming in extra innings against Asotin on April 22, en route to claiming the state title.

A team of closers

During the second half of the season, Orofino found itself in a series of tight, one-run games, with five being nail-biters.

The Maniacs emerged victorious in four of those contests, two of which occurred during the postseason.

"You could attribute it to a lot of different things," Tondevold said. "We were playing for a higher purpose, and we never felt like we were out of it. We constantly told the players, 'We believe in you.' And that's important. Players really do grow when you help them understand how much you believe in them."

Facing Grangeville in a Class 2A district championship game, the team secured a 4-3 victory in extra innings.

In the bottom of the eighth, senior Bodey Howell's walk-off single drove in Ethan Gilmore, clinching the victory and title.

The extra-inning contest was the third of its kind for the Maniacs in 2024.

Orofino's 7-6 victory over Firth in the state tournament quarterfinals was the team's final one-run game of the season.

The Maniacs rallied from an early 5-0 deficit and found the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Silas Naranjo scored after a Gilmore hit slipped past the Cougars' second baseman, giving Orofino the lead for the remainder of the game.

"We've been in that situation where we've fallen behind," Tondevold said. "We tell the guys all the time the most important pitch is the next pitch — the scoreboard doesn't matter, we're going to worry about the next pitch — and the guys bought in. The scoreboard doesn't dictate the game; we do."

Subscribe and save on a digital rate

Naranjo played a big part in the Maniacs' 17-13 victory over Wendell in the state semifinals, notching two hits, including a triple. He also picked up the win on the mound, striking out five batters.

A memorable senior class

Naranjo is a member of the Maniacs' impactful senior class, which also includes Loudan Cochran, Gavin Christopherson, Dashel Barlow, Landon Hudson and Howell.

The upperclassmen have each had their standout moments, including Christopherson's complete game with seven strikeouts that led to a win against Firth.

Cochran was dominant on the mound, allowing just four runs over 22 innings and recording 29 strikeouts. Howell led the team in doubles, while Barlow paced the Maniacs with 33 RBI.

"Every one of them was an instrumental part of our program," Tondevold said. "Four years ago, we didn't have a JV team, so they were on the varsity, and that gave them a lot of exposure. They had some leadership that helped them and taught them about the game. ... I love each and every one of them. I think they're going to make an impact in the world, and they're going to be missed in our program because of their leadership and positive energy. ... I can't emphasize how great they are and how bright the future ahead is for them."

Younger players ready to shine

Orofino will undoubtedly miss the contributions of its departing senior players. However, the Maniacs roster features several underclassmen who performed at a high level throughout the season.

Orofino junior outfielder/pitcher Aiden Olive was a top contributor this season. Olive led the team in multiple statistical categories, including batting average (.409), stolen bases (26), fielding percentage (.974), and runs scored (50). Additionally, Olive was the only Maniac player to hit a home run in 2024.

The junior pitcher posted a 1.33 ERA over 31 2/3 innings, striking out 32 batters while allowing just six earned runs.

Olive delivered an exceptional performance on the mound in the Maniacs' 8-4 victory over Grangeville in the state title game. Over 5 2/3 innings, he allowed two earned runs on four hits while striking out one batter.

"He's a highly competitive individual," Tondevold said. "He has nitro speed. Every time he puts the ball in play, he's going to do damage. He's 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, so he can hit for power, he can hit for average and he can run the bases. ... On the mound, he won the district championship and the state championship. He was a great asset in every capacity and a great person and teammate."

Jaeger Tondevold is another underclassman standout for Orofino, leading the team in hits with 39. He was also second on the team in stolen bases (nine) and third in batting average (.398).

A higher purpose

The Maniacs' state title victory capped off a historic season, ending a 10-year championship drought. However, the significance of their win extended far beyond the game itself.

As Orofino's players accepted their individual medals and team trophy, teammates reverently passed around the No. 2 jersey that had belonged to their fallen comrade, Drew Hanna.

Hanna died in a car crash in August, leaving a devastating impact on the small town.

The Maniacs dedicated their season to the former all-state pitcher, went undefeated in Central Idaho League play, recorded its highest win total in years and culminated the remarkable season by capturing a state championship.

"It was really special, not only for the team but especially for these seniors who were classmates with Drew," Tondevold said. "They had more on the table; they wanted to go out there and get this not only for themselves and the community but for Drew and his family. It was a fairy tale ending; you couldn't have scripted any better for those guys to walk out on top with the No. 2 jersey. I'm really grateful they had the opportunity to end their high school career in such a fashion. They could share in that moment and reflect on all the time and happiness they shared with Drew and his family on the baseball field."

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, or on Twitter @TreebTalks