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Here were SBLive’s top 15 pitchers in Idaho high school baseball in 2022

Led of University of Utah signee Merit Jones, of Idaho Falls, these big arms befuddled hitters this spring

Whether it was for a start in a big-time game or needing someone to come out of the bullpen for that crucial out, these were the top 15 high school pitchers coaches counted on in Idaho most during the 2022 spring season.

SBLive Idaho talked to coaches on identifying the best pitchers Idaho. Names are broken down by classification, and listed in alphabetical order:


Kailer Saunders, Timberline baseball

Timberline ace pitcher Kailer Saunders won four games and had a 1.64 ERA, but he was even better in the playoffs (0.50 ERA).

Ryder Cutlip, Owyhee, soph.

Cutlip hadn’t played a single varsity inning before this season. But that didn’t stop him from having an unexpected standout season. Cutlip’s name will forever be etched in the record books as the pitcher who clinched both the program’s first postseason appearance and win. He finished 6-1 with 58 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.33 in helping the program win a state title in its inaugural season.

"Exceptional player, exceptional young man," Owyhee coach Russ Wright said. "(He) really came on during the second last half of the season. He’s got a bright future."

Killian Fox, Lewiston, sr.

With his 88 mph fastball and diving slider, Fox helped return the storied program - the owner of 11 state championships - to prominence this year. He outdueled Idaho Falls’ Merit Jones (more on him later) to hand the Bengals their first state trophy (consolation) in six years. But it wasn’t just in the postseason. Fox ended the year 6-1 with 44 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.54. He is signed on at Yakima Valley College in Washington.

"Killian is a bulldog, extremely competitive," Lewiston coach Darren Trainor said. "(He) pounds the zone. Defense loves to play behind him."

Will Grizzle, Mountain View, soph.

Matt Rasmussen didn’t exactly know what he would get when he pulled a ninth grader up to varsity in the middle of the season last year. But the former Mountain View coach (who just stepped down) knew exactly what he would get out of Grizzle this season - dominance. Grizzle was 6-0 on the mound with 78 strikeouts to only 12 walks and an ERA of 1.00. If that wasn’t enough, he led the Mavericks to a District III title, the No. 1 overall seed at state and handed Idaho Falls’ Merit Jones the first loss of his career at state.

"Will is a three-pitch guy with great command and has an unmatched desire to compete," Rasmussen said. "Super mature for a sophomore, more great things to come. I've seen them all, he is likely the overall best pitcher in the state."

Luke Hines, Rocky Mountain, sr.

The Grizzlies have produced a who’s-who of pitchers over the years (Gonzaga’s Gabriel Hughes might be a top-10 pick in this year’s MLB Draft). Hines is the latest one. He boasted a 7-1 record with 73 strikeouts, an ERA of 0.714 and opposing batters hit just .160 against him this season. Hines fired a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in an opening round win against Borah to help Rocky Mountain advance to the state title game for the first time in five years. He will continue his career at Golden West College in California.

"Luke’s numbers speak for themselves," Rocky Mountain coach Stephan Zanoni said. "He was dominant from day one through the state tournament."

Merit Jones, Idaho Falls, sr.

We’ve finally come to him. You’ve heard a little bit about him already, but let’s fill in the gaps. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound ace was first in the state in wins (nine) and third in strikeouts (73) to go along with an impressive 1.26 ERA this season. Jones hadn’t so much as lost a single start heading into the state tournament with a career record of 16-0. He was named the Idaho Gatorade state player of the year for those efforts. Jones will play NCAA Division I ball at the University of Utah next season.

"Merit Jones has been the most dominant pitcher in the state, at the largest classification," Idaho Falls coach Trent Johnson said. "Merit is a tenacious competitor and an even better person and student."

Kailer Saunders, Timberline, sr.

Timberline has been the standard in the state for baseball in recent memory. The Wolves have eight state championships since the school opened in 1998 - and three of those, along with another finals appearance, have come in the past seven seasons. Saunders lived up to that expectation and then some this season. He posted a 4-1 record with 56 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.64. Saunders’ ERA over the last five games, including state, was just 0.50 He is signed to Idaho’s Northwest Nazarene University.

"Kailer is the ultimate competitor," Timberline coach Casey Coberly. "He is a bulldog and was nearly untouchable."

Ryan Schneider, Coeur d’Alene, sr.

Belmont University won the regular season Ohio Valley Conference title and came within one run of making the NCAA Tournament. And it signed the services of one Schneider. It’s easy to see why too. Thanks to his combination of a fastball in the upper 80s, changeup and slider, he was a perfect 6-0 this season. Schneider also allowed just eight earned runs, recorded an ERA of 1.217, a WHIP of 0.935 and fanned 77 batters.

"He can throw in any count and has a high motor and competitive spirit that led to an impressive season," Coeur d’Alene coach Erik Karns said.


Otho Savage, Twin Falls baseball, class of 2022

Whenever Twin Falls was matched up against another high-profile opponent, it was Otho Savage (5-2 record) who usually took the mound.

Colin Dempsey, Bishop Kelly, sr.

Before every game, Dempsey told himself, "Get in their faces." He certainly did so to opposing batters this season. He was the architect of the Knights’ run to a second consecutive state championship - a run that saw him go from clinching a district elimination game to two wins at state, including the final where he threw a complete-game shutout. Dempsey wound up 8-3 with 44 strikeouts, a 1.89 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in his 62.2 innings pitched this season.

"He wants to challenge every hitter and loves to compete. Colin competes in the zone and takes control of games," Bishop Kelly coach Jeff Cammann said. "He always gives us a chance to win whenever he takes the mound."

Robert Orloski, Middleton, jr.

If Jones is 1, then Orloski is 1A. With command of a fastball that tops out at 91 miles per hour, a changeup and a nasty slider, he pitched in front of not one, but two MLB scouts against Canyon Ridge on March 25. Orloski gave them a show too with a 13-strikeout, complete-game shutout. But outings like that were just the norm for him this season. He went 9-1, had 94 strikeouts and an ERA of only .703. NCAA Division I schools such as Oregon, Washington State and Utah have all expressed interest, but Orloski is committed to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

"Robert is the entire package," Middleton coach Bryan Swygart said. "He is athletic, he maintains a high GPA, has the work ethic, integrity, and a team-first attitude that will carry him very far in life."

Otho Savage, Twin Falls, sr.

Arguably, no pitcher faced stiffer competition than Savage. He went up against six pitchers on this list alone in Jones, Hines, Saunders, Thompson, Orloski and Dempsey, not to mention others such as Pocatello’s Brody Burch and Bonneville’s Davin Luce, who were also considered. But Savage came out of it all with a respectable 5-2 record, a pair of saves and 65 strikeouts to just five walks. It all led to the Bruins claiming their fifth consecutive state trophy with a runner-up finish. He is signed to Blue Mountain Community College (Oregon).

"We pitched him against every tough opponent we had and he kept us in the game," Twin Falls coach Tim Stadelmeir said. "Otho has proven in the last fours years that he can compete at a high level against any of the lineups he has faced in the state of Idaho or other states in the summer."

Hunter Thompson, Wood River, sr.

Thompson’s usage is a bit lower than the others on this list. That’s because the Wolverines also relied on him just as much on defense at shortstop. But Thompson made the most of his 36-plus innings on the bump. His fastball that touches 90 mph, allowed him to go 3-1 with 52 strikeouts. He also gave up just 10 earned runs the entire year with a 1.90 ERA. It was more than enough for NCAA Division I’s Delaware State, which is where he will play next spring.

"Hunter throws past most bats and pitches to weak contact," Wood River coach Dave Slotten said. "Hunter is an intimidating power pitcher with movement on all pitches."


Jackson Cummins, Kimberly baseball, sr.

You don't get more dominant that what Kimberly's Jackson Cummins did this spring  - 7-1, 0.58 ERA with a perfect game and no-hitter.

Jackson Cummins, Kimberly, sr.

The numbers are mind-boggling for the Kimberly ace, who throws in the mid-80s and has command of multiple off-speed pitches.

On the season, Cummins allowed just three earned runs and 12 hits. He struck out 64 of the 143 batters he faced. And he finished 7-1 with a 0.58 ERA.

Among his outings was a perfect game - and a state-tournament no-hitter. He has signed with the College of Idaho.

"Jackson has the ability to focus on every pitch and make sure each pitch goes where he wants it, too," Kimberly coach Simon Olsen said. "He has a ton of confidence when he gets on the mound."

Stanton Howell, Marsh Valley, jr.

Howell arrived on the scene as just a 12-year-old by winning the Slump Busters Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. He’s been on quite the roll ever since, including helping deliver the Eagles their second state championship in three seasons. With five distinct pitches, the lefty pitched in all of the big games and came through each and every time. Howell went 5-1 with more than a 7-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio with 71 strikeouts in total. He also recorded an ERA of 2.33 and a WHIP of 1.11.

"He has grown up pitching all over the western states," said father and Marsh Valley coach Kent Howell. "He is the real deal when it comes to pitching."


Landon Cheney, Nampa Christian baseball, class of 2022

Another spring, another state title for Nampa Christian, led by ace pitcher Landon Cheney (10-0, 0.126 ERA, 97 strikeouts).

Landon Cheney, Nampa Christian, sr.

With an arm that throws in the upper 80s, Cheney was basically flawless this season. He went a perfect 10-0 and gave up just one earned run in more than 55 innings pitched. He was nearly unhittable with a batting average against him of just .077 and an ERA of only 0.126 to go along with 97 strikeouts. The culmination of all that came in the state championship game where he tossed a complete-game, no-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Firth for the Trojans' sixth title in seven seasons and 12th overall. He will next take his talents to Oregon Tech.

"He's a tremendous competitor and kind of like a pitbull," Nampa Christian coach Marc Harris said. "When he has to dig deeper, he gets tougher and just a tremendous athlete"


Danny Kormylo, North Star, jr.

Lower-classification guys often get dismissed. The narrative is usually, "They’re good for their level." But it would be a mistake to do that with Kormylo. He went 6-1 and threw not one, but two perfect games this season. Kormylo led the entire classification with a 0.85 ERA to go with a 0.73 WHIP and 80 strikeouts to just 11 walks. He led the Huskies to their first-ever state tournament game where he suffered his lone loss - a narrow 4-2 defeat to state champion Troy. But North Star still finished with the consolation title.

"'Big Danny.' as he's called by his teammates and coaches, is a dominating figure on the bump," North Star coach Erik Hansen said. "A pitcher who could pitch at any high school level. A true ace if there ever was one."