Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Legion greets summer, one game at a time

Split with Jerome boosts morale for ballplayers

Summer is here, and there's plenty of daylight to finish up baseball doubleheaders and learn how to win games on the diamond. That's what the Wood River American Legion baseball team is trying to do.

"We're trying to get one win at a time and build from there," Wood River coach Matt Nelson said after Monday's doubleheader split with Jerome.

Jerome and Wood River seem to be going different directions in the Area C "A" ranks this summer—Jerome with experience and a better win-loss record and Wood River (3-7) with ample youth.

But Wood River got what Nelson called a "huge win" for the team's confidence with a 5-3 victory over Jerome in Monday's Legion nightcap. The visitors from Hailey capitalized on Jerome's mistakes (errors, wild pitches and walks) and did many of the little things right.

Nelson said, "We got on base, gave ourselves opportunities and took advantage of some of their mistakes. Not only did we get guys in position at the right time, we also got hits at the right time. It makes a big difference when you get your first two batters on base."

Righthander Trent Seamons, who mopped up in the 10-0 opening game loss to Jerome, started out the second game and held Jerome to a 3-3 tie after three innings. He was relieved by rangy Erik Jacobson and Jacobson came on strong.

Jacobson held Jerome scoreless in the final four frames and earned his first pitching victory when his teammates pushed across two runs in the fifth. Michale Brunker and Pat Patterson walked and moved ahead on Drew Anderson's sacrifice bunt. Jacobson drew another walk to load the bases, and Chris Coupe was plunked by a pitch to force a run home. A wild pitch plated a fifth run.

Nelson said, "Erik threw great. We've been working with him on location and moving his fastball inside and outside. He had excellent stuff and had them off balance at the plate."

At shortstop, Pat Patterson made a few excellent plays early in the nightcap, then he moved to catcher. Third baseman Brunker turned a double play to get Jacobson out of a first-and-second, no-out jam. "Huge play," Nelson said.

Dominating the first game was Jerome pitcher Tucker Thompson, who whiffed 10 Wood River batters and finished with a 10-0 one-hitter. "We couldn't do anything at the plate against him. Thompson pitched well," said Nelson.

In between games, faced with a three-game losing streak, Nelson suggested that his players start anew and show some heart and go out and play baseball. Jerome's miscues helped and the Hailey boys did the rest in the 5-3 win.

Wood River travels to Pocatello Monday, June 26 for a doubleheader against Highland, then has back-to-back home twinbills against Pocatello and Bear Lake next Wednesday and Thursday, June 28-29 at Founders Field.

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