Friday, June 19, 2009

Astros bring Legion back down to earth

Kimberly sweeps weary Wood River 8-7, 18-3

Express Staff Writer

After pitching nearly five innings of relief in Wood Riverís 8-7 opening-game loss Tuesday, Keven Abbott went out to shortstop for Wood River and chased this ground ball off the bat of a Kimberly Astros player. Photo by David N. Seelig

Tired and ornery from an exhausting stretch of 13 games in seven days, the Wood River American Legion baseball team didn't have too much gas in the tank for Tuesday's home Area C "A" doubleheader with a fired-up Kimberly Astros team.

Kimberly took full advantage of a Wood River squad that had won the Wes Miller Memorial wood-bat tournament in Nampa 48 hours earlier. But five straight days of playing on the road finally caught up with coach Matt Nelson's team.

The Astros (7-3, 4-2 league) pounded out 26 runs on 19 hits in 12 innings of baseball Tuesday at Hailey's Founders Field and escaped with an 8-7 and 18-3 doubleheader sweep over Wood River (10-5, 5-5 league).

Still, Wood River came within a swing of tying and perhaps winning the opener.

In the first game, Kimberly sent 19-year-old righty Evan Jerke to the hill and built an 8-1 cushion after four innings. Jerke forced a bunch of ground balls, got help from a double play and was pretty much bulletproof until the fifth inning.

That's when leadoff singles by Michale Brunker (3 hits, 3 runs) and Keven Abbott (2 hits, 2 runs) set the table for a two-run double by Shane Friesen (3 hits) and RBI single by Collin Dean. Wood River cut its deficit to 8-5 with the four-run uprising and looked for more.

Wood River put itself in comeback mode because of an outstanding long relief performance by righthander Abbott (5 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 3 BB, 1 K). Abbott relieved starter Sean Bunce in the third after Brady Osborne's two-run triple made it 8-0 for Kimberly.

Abbott, giving his team a chance to rally, was great in a rare pitching effort. He stranded Osborne at third, stabbed a grounder and started a double play that ended the fourth, and stranded Astros runners at third in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

Greg Wakefield's RBI single made it 8-7 in the sixth but that's as close as Wood River could come. Kimberly's three-sport stud athlete A.J. Schroeder relieved Jerke in the sixth and held Wood River scoreless to earn the save for the visitors.

Wood River out-hit Kimberly 11-10 but couldn't get the hit it needed in the final frame.

In the nightcap, Kimberly came right back with Schroeder on the mound. The righty, a recent Kimberly graduate, held Wood River to six hits in four innings of work. That included two hits by Brunker (double), a two-run double by Wakefield, plus an RBI double and triple by catcher Tyler Peters.

Leading 5-3 after three innings, Kimberly (9 hits) broke it wide open with a seven-run fourth (6 unearned) and added six more runs in the fifth. Wood River's worn-down pitchers gave up 12 free passes including seven hit batsmen. The final score was 18-3.

Schroeder (5-for-7) was Kimberly's top hitter for the doubleheader. Jerke went 2-for-3 with a triple in the nightcap.

Nelson's team is idle until its next league games Tuesday, June 23, against reigning district champion Bear Lake at Montpelier. Bear Lake defeated Buhl 10-6 for the Area C "A" title last July 26 in Twin Falls and placed fourth at state.

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