By JAMES CORDES
With two wins on Saturday, the Wood River American Legion baseball team captured fifth place in the Marsh Falls Tiede Invitational 11-team baseball tournament in American Falls this past weekend.
Defending state champion Upper Valley defeated Bear Lake 4-2 in Saturday's championship game to remain undefeated on the weekend.
"All in all, it was a good weekend, especially finishing with two wins," Wood River head coach Eli Lloyd said. "We competed great in all of our wins, we just need that performance consistently now."
Wood River won three of its five games in American Falls, but Saturday proved to be the most promising for the young 15-18 year-old squad.
Taking on Blackfoot (10-10) in Saturday's consolation game, the Hailey-based Wranglers (3-2 tournament, 9-8 overall) put up nine runs in the last three innings to win 17-9.
After Blackfoot tied the game 8-8 in the fourth, Wood River answered with hot-hitting Morgan Uhrig (4 hits, 4 RBI) ripping a clutch two-run double in the fifth frame.
Jimmy Pierson added two doubles in the sixth and seventh innings, along with Tyler Thiede's seventh inning two-run home run. Trent Seamons (4 runs) chipped in two hits.
Kenny Cardona (3-2) and Pierson combined the efforts on the hill, with Cardona picking up the pitching win in five innings with six strikeouts.
Prior to Wood River's offensive display against Blackfoot Saturday, it was a win of a different nature that got its momentum rolling in the morning of the tourney's final day.
Facing Idaho Falls, Thiede (1-2) took the hill and delivered big time. He allowed only two hits in his complete-game 5-1 Wood River triumph, while striking out six.
"Tyler threw great for us against Idaho Falls," Lloyd said. "He threw strikes, got ahead for the most part, and delivered us a much-needed win."
A three-run fifth inning gave Thiede breathing room. Eric Jacobson's two-run base knock was followed by a Uhrig double, putting the game out of reach. Jacobson and Uhrig each had two hits to fuel the eight-hit Wood River attack.
Preliminary tourney games
Friday's lone game for Wood River pitted the Hailey boys against a hot Bear Lake squad that outscored opponents 40-13 in its four tourney victories over the first two days.
And they faced an even hotter pitcher. Wood River was no-hit through five innings.
Then, scrappy leadoff hitter and shortstop Tyler Israel knocked the Wranglers' first—and only—base hit of the afternoon. He later scored on a Bear Lake error, giving Wood River its only run in the 11-1 loss.
"We ran into a pitcher who was hot and we just couldn't get anything going against him." Lloyd said. "But the team was stoked about getting the one hit, because nobody wants to be no-hit."
The offense of Bear Lake (17-4) was too much for Wood River's lanky righthander Pat Patterson. He went all seven innings but Patterson's low ERA took it on the chin. He yielded 10 earned runs.
But, more importantly, Patterson (2-1) gave an already-depleted Wrangler bullpen valuable innings on the hill, saving arms for Saturday's twinbill.
Wood River split two games Thursday.
Thursday's tournament-opening game for the Hailey nine came against eventual champion Upper Valley. Wood River fell 14-9.
Drew Anderson (2 runs) led the offensive charge going 3-for-4 with a double and three stolen bases. Pierson (2 runs) cracked a home run and a double for his two hits. Derek Abbott added a double in the three-run Wood River fourth inning.
Cardona picked up the pitching loss, with relief from Israel and Uhrig.
Thursday's nightcap was Wood River's closest game of the tournament as the visitors from Hailey defeated Highland of Pocatello 8-6.
Israel, Uhrig, and Patterson each contributed doubles in Wood River's four-run fourth inning. Anderson added a home run, completing a 5-for-7 Thursday at the dish. Danny Kramer scored a pair of runs.
"Drew was seeing the ball well and he had a good day," Lloyd said.
On the hill, Eric Jacobson (2-2) and Thiede combined for the win against Highland. Jacobson scattered six hits, while allowing four runs over six innings. Thiede earned the save with one strong inning.
For the entire tournament, Uhrig led Wood River offensively, going a combined 9-18 with three doubles and eight RBI.
"We moved up Morgan into the third spot for the final game because he was just seeing the ball so well," Lloyd said about his batting order juggling. "He had a great weekend."
Jimmy Pierson was 6-11 with a round tripper and three doubles while Anderson finished 6-for-17 with five runs scored.
Thiede's Thursday save and Saturday's win gave him top-pitching honors, while Kenny Cardona and Pat Patterson contributed many innings on the bump.
Wood River was affected by the Tiede Invitational's short fences, surrendering 10 home runs to its opponents, while hitting five. The Wranglers were also outscored 40-41 on the weekend.
Bear Lake's 4-1 second-place showing came a weekend after securing the Donnelley Invitational Tournament championship in Twin Falls.
Shelley earned third-place honors on the weekend, beating host Marsh Falls (20-12) by a score of 6-2 Saturday. Blackfoot rounded out the top tier of the 11-team tournament bracket, taking home sixth place.
Wood River returned home Tuesday with a Founders Field doubleheader against its league rival Buhl. Lloyd's squad resumes home play Thursday, June 30 at 4 p.m., pitted against Tiede Invitational third-place finisher Shelley. Next Tuesday, July 5, Highland arrives.
The Wranglers have a head of steam after winning three games at two successive weekend tournaments.
"It was a great ending to the tournament and I just hope we can take that momentum into this week's home league games," Lloyd said. "That's where it really matters and it's where we need to start playing well."