This is a critical week for the struggling Wood River High School baseball team, in the view of first-year head coach Matt Nelson.
Hailey's Founders Field, where the Wolverines were nearly unbeatable at 37-2 in four spring seasons from 2002-05, isn't even a sure place for Wood River anymore.
Loser of six straight games and outscored 53-23 in that disappointing one-week stretch, Wood River (2-6, 1-0 league) had home games scheduled against Filer Tuesday, April 18 and Burley Thursday, April 20.
Filer (11-4 this spring) was last year's State 3A champion, having completed an outstanding 22-6 campaign with a 6-0 state tournament victory over Middleton. It was Filer's first-ever state baseball crown.
"It's a big week for us," said Nelson, who wasn't at all happy with his team's 14-5 and 5-3 doubleheader loss to the Preston Indians Saturday on the soggy Founders Field diamond.
Wood River nearly didn't get in Saturday's home debut all, but a hard-working crew of parents and other volunteers worked on the field Saturday morning and spread 26 bags of kitty litter to soak up the wet.
"The guys really stepped up and did a good job on the field," said coach Nelson. Unfortunately the effort didn't transfer to Wood River players.
Wood River came out smoking and ripped eight hits in the first two innings of Saturday's opener against a Preston squad that had eliminated the 20-9 Wolverines 2-1 in last spring's state play-in game at Rupert.
That was the identical score, 2-1 in favor of Wood River, when Preston nicked Wolverine starter Kenny Cardona (0-1) for five runs in the third and then tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning Saturday.
Probably the best players for Wood River on the field and at the bat Saturday were second baseman Drew Anderson and third sacker Danny Kramer. The other players didn't help much, except for righthanded starter Pat Patterson (2-2) who pitched a tough game in the 5-3 nightcap loss to Preston.
Nelson said, "Pat has been throwing well all year long, but he got a little frustrated, too, and might have been trying to do a little too much. Drew had a great day, though, and Danny had a great game at third including a fine diving play in the first game."