It wasn't a pretty game, with seven errors between the two teams, but the streaking Jerome Tigers got the big hit when they needed it and slipped past the upset-minded Wood River Wolverines 5-4 Wednesday at Founders Field.
Jerome junior Mike Cummins pulled a three-run homer down the left field line giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead in the third inning. That was the cushion that Tiger starting righthander Ben Edwards needed in the pivotal Great Basin Conference West prep baseball clash.
Edwards (4-2), in trouble with walks and errors in the early innings, settled down and kept Wood River batters off balance with mostly junk and occasional fastballs for five-and-a-third innings. He allowed four hits and no earned runs.
His determined effort enabled Jerome (11-11, 3-2 league) to post its seventh consecutive triumph and nail down the second seed and home field advantage for a first-round game of the Great Basin West tournament against #3-seeded Wood River Friday, May 5, in Jerome.
Jerome, playing its seventh game in six days, showed some effects in the first two innings but Wood River ran itself out of potential big innings with base-running mistakes. The first three Wolverine runs were unearned as the home team couldn't break through with the big hit against Edwards.
But Wood River trailed only 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a gritty complete-game pitching effort by righty ace Pat Patterson (113 pitches, 4 hits, 6 K, 3 BB, 2 HBP). Patterson battled with Tiger runners aboard in every inning and basically made one bad pitch, to Cummins for the homer.
Three walks issued with no outs by Tiger relievers Em Powell and Travis Cooley gave Wood River a glimmer of hope in the seventh, but a missed sign on a suicide squeeze attempt resulted in the runner tagged out at the plate. The Wolverines pushed one across, but no more and fell just short.
Coach Matt Nelson's Wolverines (4-10, 2-3 league) dropped their first one-run contest of the 2006 season, and ended up 0-2 against Jerome. The Tigers started their season 1-7 but started turning it around with a 10-7 home victory over Wood River April 10.
Wood River plays in the eight-team Preston tournament Friday and Saturday, April 28-29. The Wolverines go against Century of Pocatello Friday at 12:45 p.m. and Highland of Pocatello at 5:15 p.m. On Saturday the Hailey batters meet Malad at 10 a.m. to see if they advance into the 3:30 p.m. first-place or second-place games.
"Senior Night" is the Wednesday, May 3 game against league-leading Minico (17-4, 5-0 league). Minico, the reigning conference and State 4A champion, won six games by a combined 60-11 score in the last week over Preston, Jerome, Pocatello and Burley.