Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wood River Gold takes Nelson Tourney

Fruitland Cubs take minors

Express Staff Writer

Finn Isaacson pitches against East Boise early Saturday during the Ray Nelson Invitational Little League tournament. Isaacson was named Most Valuable Player of the weekend.

The Wood River Gold 12-and-under baseball team took the championship title of the 37th annual Ray Nelson Invitational Little League tournament in Hailey this weekend. It was the first time a local team has won the tournament for their hometown in nine years.

The tournament is named for Ray Nelson, a baseball booster from Hailey. He bequeathed a love of the game to family members and friends when he passed away in 1970. There were a lot of old-timers in the crowd at the final game Saturday evening.

"They were pretty excited and proud of those boys," said Wood River Gold coach Gunner Whitehead. "They all played great. Great hitting and great batting all around."

The team played four games Saturday, ending with a long battle and an 8-6 win against West Boise, the team ranked No. 2 in Little League in the state. The Gold were ranked No. 3 in the Cal Ripkin League. Good coaching, steady play and sheer endurance brought a final win to the Gold on Saturday after extra innings.

The Gold were a little drowsy for the 8:30 a.m. game against the Filer Wildcats, but beat them 13-5 to play East Boise before lunch, beating them 6-2.

At 1:45 p.m. the Gold took on the Mini Cassia Braves.

At the top of the fifth with the score tied 3-3, Cameron Benson fake bunted two pitches before sending a hit up the middle and getting on base. Reed Whitehead then knocked him home for a 4-3 win, sending the team to the final match against West Boise.

At the top of the first inning The Gold scored two runs on two walks and a double from Cameron Benson. West Boise answered with three runs in the bottom of the first on a couple of doubles and a throwing error. There was no more scoring until the top of the fifth when Wood River scored two runs on two singles and couple of wild pitches.

Boise answered in the bottom of the fifth with three runs, including a one-out double.

At the top of the sixth, with the Gold trailing 6-4, Alec Nordseick hit a triple to right center, scoring Jake Jorgensen from first base. Nordseick then scored when Brandon Benson hit a single to left field.

The bottom of the sixth was scoreless for West Boise. First baseman Finn Isaacson had an un- assisted put-out at first base and then threw to third baseman Nordseick to get the runner advancing from second.

The seventh was scoreless for both teams. Tied at 6-6 at the top of the eighth, a lead-off single was hit by Brandon Benson, who stole second and then scored on a sacrifice fly from clean-up hitter Finn Isaacson. Cameron Benson later scored on a wild pitch, giving the Gold an 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Pitcher Nic Tidwell came in under big pressure and pitched a one-two-three inning highlighted by a defensive play in which shortstop Gage Jorgensen fielded a grounder, faked a throw to first base and then tagged a runner who strayed from second base.

The final out was recorded on a ground ball to Nordseick who threw to second to force the runner out.

Finn Isaacson won tournament MVP for the weekend.

In the Minor Division, the Wood River Minors 9-and-under team lost all four games but ended their season with a thrilling 14-12 game against the Idaho All-stars.

The Wood River Gold 10-and-under team had a tough draw and lost its opening Friday games 14-4 and 14-0 to the Boise Bombers and Meridian Thunder. The team rallied on Saturday to beat the Twin Falls Cowboys (8-6) and Burley Cubs (11-1).

The Fruitland Cubs made it two Nelson Tournament championships in a row with a 14-4 drubbing of Meridian in the championship game.

Tony Evans:

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