Struggling at the plate and on the mound, the Wood River American Legion Wranglers baseball team (2-4) got off to a rocky start this week in its first set of doubleheaders against eastern Idaho competition.
The Idaho Falls Rangers swept the visiting Wranglers 11-1 and 9-8 Tuesday. The Pocatello Razorbacks came to Hailey's Founders Field on Wednesday and played well in 10-6 and 15-4 Area C "A" victories over Wood River's top team of 15- to 18-year-old players.
Wood River showed flashes of solid baseball, but too many free passes issued by its pitchers (10 walks and 9 hit batters in 12 innings against Pocatello) and too many strikeouts (20 in 2 games) on the road at Idaho Falls derailed the team's effort.
Getting clutch two-out RBI hits, the Wranglers (10 hits) led 4-1 and 5-4 in Wednesday's opener against Pocatello. But the Razorbacks (12 hits) scored five times in the fourth and never looked back to win 10-6.
Third baseman Jimmy Hague (3 hits, 3 RBI) smacked a two-run homer for Wood River. Zach Israel (3 hits, triple, 2 runs), Alex Padilla (2 hits) and catcher Nick Brunker (2 hits, triple) led the hitting. Brunker made two excellent tags at the plate in the seventh to stop Pokey scoring attempts. Collin Dean pitched well in three and two-thirds innings of relief.
Pocatello put together a pair of five-run uprisings and capitalized on eight free passes to sweep the league twinbill 15-4. Israel, Braxton Parish (double) and Hague (triple, double) each had two hits, while Alex Thomas contributed a double.
Tuesday's nightcap at Idaho Falls saw Wood River grab a 6-0 lead with a six-run first frame but the Rangers battled back.
It looked like the Wranglers might pull it off when they overcame the Rangers with a two-run seventh for an 8-7 lead on a Keven Abbott sacrifice fly and Connor Braatz hit. But Idaho Falls (7 hits, but 10 BB, 1 HBP) pushed across the game-winning runs in the home half.
Hailey hitters included Dean (2 hits, double, 2 runs), Padilla (2 runs), Abbott (double) and Hague (2 hits). But 12 whiffs stymied Wood River's progress.
It doesn't get any easier for Wood River when the reigning State "A" Legion champs representing Bonneville of Idaho Falls invade Founders Field for an Area 3 doubleheader today, Friday starting at 1 p.m. The Wranglers visit Buhl Monday, and then host Twin Falls and Blackfoot on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 15-16.