Burley’s bunts spark big frame, WRHS falls 7-5
Bobcats sweep twinbill in Great Basin opener
By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer
Sometimes the smallest things like bunts can make the biggest difference in baseball.
Two perfectly executed bunts caught Wood River High School infielders flat-footed and turned out to be the decisive blows in Burley’s 7-5 Great Basin Conference West triumph over the Wolverines Wednesday on the Burley diamond.
Burley turned the bunt singles by center fielder Garret Lyons and right fielder Logan Ottley into a five-run third and a 7-3 lead. Wood River chipped away but ended up stranding six runners in scoring position and fell short in the 7-5 final.
It was the first conference game of the season for both teams—Wood River (2-6, 0-2 league) was the home team in the batting order because it couldn’t host the game in Hailey due to wet grounds. Burley (3-3, 2-0) also won the run-rule nightcap 12-2 in six innings.
Steve Beck, Burley righthanded pitcher, walked seven Wood River batters and survived four errors to earn the 7-5 victory with six-and-a-third innings of 121-pitch work. Reliever Marcus Hoskins yielded a one-out single to Sean Bunce after Beck issued two free passes in the seventh, but Hoskins struck out the side.
Wood River, out-hit by Burley 12-7, also got a pair of gutsy pitching efforts from senior ace Pat Patterson (4 innings, 6 earned runs, 11 hits, 100 pitches) and junior Greg Wakefield (3 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit) but couldn’t deliver the runs when they needed them.
Each Burley player had a hit in the opener and seven of the nine starters scored a run.
Things looked promising for Wood River in the second stanza when coach Matt Nelson’s team manufactured three runs for a brief 3-2 advantage.
Wakefield led off with an opposite-field double down the right field line but was thrown out at the plate, Ottley to John Cummings to Sam Harris, on Bunce’s single to right. With two outs, Keven Abbott walked.
Nelson, the third base coach, decided to make something happen and had Bunce (2 hits) stealing third with two outs. Burley catcher Harris overthrew third base and Bunce scored easily for a 3-1 game.
Shortstop Michale Brunker added an infield single, putting runners at the corners. Wood River followed with two perfectly-executed hit-and-run plays—Tyler Israel (2 hits) punching a single through the wide-open left side of the infield to drive Abbott home, and Trent Seamons ripping a single to left, scoring Brunker.
The lead didn’t last long. An infield error and walk put two Burley runners aboard and Lyons dropped a bunt down the third-base side to jam the sacks. Harris followed with a two-run single, then Ottley punched his bunt single down the first-base side. He later scored on a wild pitch and Hoskins added an RBI infield single for a 7-3 lead.
Wood River pitchers Patterson and Wakefield settled down and held Burley scoreless for the final four innings. But the Wolverines couldn’t make any headway with a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the third, and they could only score one in the seventh despite having two on the bases with no outs.
Wood River travels to Blackfoot for a noon non-conference twinbill Saturday, April 5. The Wolverines, originally scheduled to host Blackfoot, will be the home team in the batting order. The Wolverines go to defending league champion Minico on Tuesday, April 8.
In other Great Basin Conference West action, the Minico Spartans (8-1, 0-0 league) blanked visiting Pocatello 1-0 Wednesday and Jerome (6-4, 0-0) dropped a 10-4 decision to Century in Pocatello. Jerome hosts Burley on Tuesday.