The summer youth baseball season continued for the Wood River Baseball and Softball Association 12-and-under "Wood River Black" team Thursday morning at the Regional Cal Ripken tournament at Settlers Park in Meridian.
Coached by Brian Nelson, Terry Wall and Charlie Dunn, Wood River Black debuted in regional round-robin action against Western Montana from Kalispell. On the 11-player regional team from Hailey are:
Wilson Dunn, Jett Erickson, Owen Gifford, Christian Hovey, Brock Mary, Kyle Nelson, Zach Nelson, Cade Schott, Keaton Wall, Colby Whitehead and John Blackburn.
This is Wood River Black's seventh tournament of the summer. The boys have placed third on five different occasions, including last week's State Cal Ripken tournament won by Vallivue of Caldwell by a 4-3 score over host Meridian.
Although Wood River tied with 2011 Ray Nelson Invitational 12-U champion East Boise for third place, the WR Black team got the nod over East Boise for a regional berth after a team from British Columbia, Canada, elected not to come to Meridian for regionals.
Wood River plays two games today, Friday, meeting North Washington from Ellensburg at 11 a.m. and host Meridian at 4 p.m. The other four-team pool features Vallivue plus teams from Washington, Oregon and Montana. The top three teams from each pool advance to further action Saturday, July 23, with the championship game set for Sunday, July 24.
At last weekend's State Cal Ripken tourney, Wood River captured the top seed out of its four-team pool and ending up winning two of its four games behind the strong pitching of Hovey, Schott and Gifford.
Nampa Red nipped Wood River 5-4 in the first state game, but the Hailey boys rebounded with a dramatic 4-2 eight-inning victory over the Twin Falls Americans and a convincing 9-1 win over host Meridian.
Starting pitcher Gifford, long reliever Schott (4 innings) and closer Hovey (2 innings) led Wood River to the extra-inning triumph over Twin Falls. The local boys tied it 2-2 in the sixth inning and put together the decisive rally in the eighth thanks to clutch hits by Wilson Dunn and Brock Mary.
Against Meridian, starting and winning pitcher Hovey sparked an excellent mound effort with Schott and all Hailey players hitting the ball hard, according to coach Nelson.