Friday, June 12, 2009

Legion takes the wind out of Cyclones 13-10, 15-0

Wakefield’s hitting sparks 28-run twinbill

Greg Wakefield was on fire at the plate for the Wood River American Legion baseball team, ripping six hits in six trips, including gappers like this one to left field. Photo by David N. Seelig

Sweeping its first doubleheader of the young 2009 summer season, the Wood River American Legion baseball team had a whole lineup full of contributors Wednesday on a wet day at Hailey's Founders Field.

Wood River (4-2) made it three consecutive wins and took the wind out of the Jerome Cyclones' sails 13-10 and 15-0. Coach Matt Nelson's 16-player Legion lineup heated up its bats, got promising pitching and played errorless ball in the five-inning nightcap shutout.

Top Hailey stars of the day were third baseman Greg Wakefield (6-for-6, 6 runs, 7 RBI), relief pitcher Shane Friesen, who earned the save in the first game, and starting pitcher Jimmy Hague, who baffled the Cyclones with an efficient three-hitter in the nightcap.

Wakefield crushed the ball all day and was completely dialed into the left-center-field gap with his long and deep drives. In the 13-10 first-game victory, he smacked two triples and two doubles, scored four runs and drove home four.

As No. 3 hitter, Wakefield along with No. 2 hitter Michale Brunker (triple, double, 4 runs) and clean-up man Bryan Bray (3 RBI) were a combined 8-for-10 (8 runs, 8 RBI). They accounted for seven of Wood River's nine extra-base hits. In all, Hailey cranked out 15 hits with nine batters hitting safely.

Wood River had to rally from 5-2 and 7-4 deficits. The home team surged ahead with a seven-run fourth for what looked like a comfortable 11-7 lead with nine outs to go. Catcher Sean Bunce put down a terrific squeeze bunt to spark the rally followed by run-scoring extra-base hits by Zach Israel, Brunker and Wakefield.

Despite a strong middle-relief pitching effort by winning pitcher Israel, who retired four straight Cyclones in the fourth and fifth, Wood River found itself up against the wall when Jerome strung together four singles to open the sixth. Nelson summoned Friesen from right field to put out the fire.

Right away, Friesen threw gasoline on the fire when he fielded a sharp grounder up the middle and threw errantly to third base trying to get a force out. Several Cyclones scampered around the bases. When Friesen plunked the next Jerome batter, the bases were loaded with no outs and Wood River clinging to an 11-10 lead.

Friesen bore down and got two straight strikeouts, both looking, the second on a curve ball that dropped in for a third strike and caused Jerome head coach Cody Chandler to vehemently question calls and get tossed out of the game. Friesen escaped with a grounder to Wakefield at third.

In the home sixth, Brunker led off with a double, Wakefield legged out his second triple and then scored on Bray's bouncing ball. With Hailey's lead padded by the two insurance runs, Friesen retired Jerome 1-2-3 in the seventh, second baseman Juan Martinez making a fine leaping catch to end the game.

Friesen also contributed with two hits. Hague had a double and Collin Dean and Alex Padilla added singles. Kevin Bos had three of Jerome's 11 hits over the two-hour and 18-minute game.

The second game was much shorter, thanks to righthander Hague. He needed only 39 pitches, an average of 7.8 per inning, to throttle the young Cyclones lineup 15-0. Hague allowed three singles and got 14 of his 15 outs in the infield. Shortstop Keven Abbott and second-sacker Israel turned two double plays to speed things up.

Wood River broke the game open sending 17 batters to the plate in its 12-run second. Among the highlights: Bunce RBI single; Brunker two-run single and sacrifice fly; Hague two-run double; Israel RBI single; and Friesen two-run single.

Collin Dean played a solid third base, helping Wood River stay errorless, while Brandon Beall doubled, John Siegel chipped in an RBI single and Padilla scored three runs along with his two hits for the game.

Legion splits with Buhl

Tuesday afternoon, Wood River and Buhl split an Area C "A" doubleheader at Founders Field. Buhl won the first game 6-2 behind a 10-strikeout performance by J.D. Leckenby. Abbott had two hits for Hailey.

In the nightcap, Wood River prevailed 5-1 behind an outstanding 91-pitch complete-game pitching performance by Michale Brunker. He allowed two hits while whiffing five, walking two and hitting one.

Wood River got all the runs it needed with a three-run first frame. Dean and Abbott drew walks, Wakefield delivered a run-scoring single and Hague pounded a two-run triple. In the third, Wood River made it 4-0 when Brunker drilled a leadoff triple and scored.

Rain canceled Friday's season-opening doubleheader against the Burley Green Sox at Founders Field and the teams split the twinbill to come up with one win apiece in the Area C "A" Legion standings.

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