Friday, June 5, 2009

Legion baseball team debuts with high hopes

Burley squad arrives today for twinbill

Express Staff Writer

Coach Matt Nelson's Wood River American Legion baseball squad cracks open its 36-game season today, June 5, with a home doubleheader against Burley at Hailey's Founders Field. Games start at 11 a.m.

Four graduating seniors lead this summer's 17-player team of 15-18 year-old players for the upcoming Area C "A" baseball battles, which include 16 home games at Founders.

They are Bryan Bray, Michale Brunker, Greg Wakefield and Sean Bunce.

Juniors, who are incoming seniors at Wood River High, include Keven Abbott, Shane Friesen, Jimmy Hague, Tyler Peters and Juan Martinez. The sophomores, incoming juniors, are Brandon Beall, Collin Dean, Jake Freeman, Zachary Israel, Kevin Jensen, Tazmin Lyons, Alex Padilla and John Siegel.

Several incoming sophomores will also suit up. As always, Wood River High School baseball coach Nelson will use the summer season to develop his pitching staff and put some exciting wins on the board.

Today's games are the first two of a six-game season-opening homestand that includes doubleheaders with Buhl Tuesday, June 9, and with Jerome June 10. The Nampa tournament is June 11-14.

The Burley Green Sox opened their season Wednesday with a 20-6 win over Marsh Falls, in American Falls. Then Burley entertained the Twin Falls "A" squad Thursday.

Burley, today's opponent, was the program that pulled off a 5-1 upset over No. 2-seeded Wood River in the first round of the 2008 Area C "A" tournament in Twin Falls last July 24. Wood River had put together a 22-8 league record but won only one of its three games in the 12-team district tournament.

Still, it was a remarkable summer for Wood River (26-11), one of the local Legion's best. Nelson's boys went 11-3 at home and 8-1-6 in doubleheaders. Wood River averaged 8.6 runs per game and yielded 4.8, but lost its main two pitchers to graduation, Pat Patterson (9-3) and Trent Seamons (5-1).

District champion Bear Lake, runner-up Buhl and third-place Upper Valley of St. Anthony, all state qualifiers, didn't fare well at the eight-team State "A" tournament in Boise last August. Bear Lake went 2-2, but Buhl and Upper Valley each left with 1-2 marks.

Last year's State "A" Legion champions were the Lewis-Clark Cubs from Lewiston over the Mountain View Toros, with the Orofino Merchants third. Bear Lake finished fourth.

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