Very few baseball players accomplish what Wood River's Alex Padilla accomplished Friday at Hailey's Founders Field in the final at-bat of his high school baseball career.
Padilla ripped an inside-the-park home run that turned out to be the final Wood River American Legion run of the season in a 10-5 home victory over the Pocatello Rebels at Hailey's Founders Field.
Of course, no inside-the-park home runs start out as four-baggers. Somewhere along the line the hitter watches the outfielders scrambling for the ball and makes a decision to go for it during his adventurous circuit around the basepaths.
Padilla started his decision-making process the moment the ball left the hand of the Pocatello Rebels pitcher in the eighth inning of a nine-inning Area C "A" single game. It was a two-out 2-2 pitch, and the offering was way low, about four inches off the ground.
The southpaw swinging Wood River center fielder went down and got it, spraying it like a 3-iron to the right center field gap. Soon after he passed second base, it became evident Padilla wasn't stopping at third and was going for home.
He made it without a slide.
Padilla's hit, and Wood River's 10-5 win, were satisfying endings to a rocky summer season that included 12 canceled games and the 7-17 Wrangler overall season record.
Wood River missed out on qualifying for this week's Area C West Division district tournament, but the Wranglers did prevail in five of their 11 Founders Field games this summer.
First-year coach Trent Seamons said about his players, "They came a long way from the beginning of the season and felt a lot better about themselves when it was done."
On Friday, all the Wranglers played a role in a triumph that was secured during a six-run sixth inning explosion.
Righthanded pitcher Marshall Reyburn threw five strong innings for Wood River and left with the score tied 3-3. Reliever Austin Hafer (3-1), the eventual winner, pitched the top of the sixth and stranded the go-ahead Rebel runner at third by enticing a ground ball and line drive to senior shortstop Collin Dean.
Wood River's decisive rally began quietly when, with one out, Tim Boyle drew a walk on four pitches—the final ball beaning him. The next batter, rightfielder Jason Williams, stroked his first hit of the season. It was a line drive to right that put two runners aboard. Reyburn then belted an RBI single to left for a 4-3 game.
Hafer drilled a single between short and third that filled the bases, and Dean drew an RBI walk for a 5-3 lead. Zach Israel ripped a 1-0 pitch for a two-run single to right. With two outs, catcher Cameron Benson tomahawked a two-run single for a 9-3 cushion.
With the big lead, Seamons elected to have seniors Dean, Israel and Padilla each throw one inning to finish out the game and the strategy worked out well, thanks to some excellent Hailey defensive plays.
In the seventh with two Rebels aboard and no outs, catcher Benson threw out a base stealer, second baseman Armando Gomez applying the tag. Gomez, a late-inning defensive substitute, made several good plays in the final three frames. Padilla made a fine diving catch in center with the sacks full in the eighth.