Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wood River baseball off to slow start

Coach Matt Nelson proud of the effort

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River baseball squad started its season Friday with a battle against Kimberly on the road, and a double-header at Bishop Kelly on Saturday.

Wood River lost all three games, but head coach Matt Nelson said his team now has a really good gauge of what to expect for the rest of the season.

Not seeing the field for the majority of the practice season, Wood River (0-3) saw action for the first time against Kimberly, losing 10-2.

"It's what we expected," Nelson said. "We had a lot of inexperience, but I'm proud of their effort."

Down 3-2 in the fourth inning, the Wolverines were clawing with Kimberly. However, Kimberly broke the game open in that inning by putting up four runs.

Junior Nick Brunker had a great game, going perfect from the plate with four hits and two doubles. Brunker also drove in an RBI and a run.

Junior Tim Boyle had an RBI single on the day as well.

Lone senior Austin Hafer was given the loss on the mound for Wood River. Hafer pitched like a veteran, giving up six hits, but striking out eight batters. He also only gave up three earned runs on the day.

"Austin didn't pitch bad," Nelson said. "He's just getting his feet wet. He'll get the little adjustment. We have to take the good with the bad."

Wood River has barely seen any live baseball over spring, a situation that has already become evident with the errors in the field. It's something that Nelson said will fix itself with time on the field.

In its double-header against Bishop Kelly, Wood River didn't fare much better than the previous match against Kimberly.

In the first game, Wood River started off well when junior Ben Williams scored the only run for his team in a losing effort, with Bishop Kelly taking the first game 14-1.

Bishop Kelly, a regular state contender, was a tough opponent to start the season. Nelson said his team faced a solid pitching staff in Bishop Kelly—experience that will help his team prepare for league play.

Brunker was the losing pitcher in the effort. He gave up nine hits and 10 earned runs while striking out three batters.

"We're going to get better," Nelson said. "This is a huge improvement. Bishop Kelly could have scored more runs. These games showed our kids where we're at."

In the second game, Bishop Kelly again didn't let up very easily and beat Wood River, 11-1.

In that game, Wood River was the victim of fielding errors.

"If we didn't kick the ball around so much, it would have been different," Nelson said.

Wood River didn't have its senior Hafer for any help, as he was taking his SATs.

Without Hafer, Nelson had to start five underclassmen for the day. The inexperience showed as many of the errors were throwing errors.

The bright spots over the two-day period were Brunker (hitting .500 in three games) and clean-up batter Williams (hitting .400 in three games and being responsible for half of Wood River's runs scored).

Wood River will travel to Buhl on Thursday for another double-header. Buhl won't be much of a break for Wood River as the team is usually a staple in postseason play.

"We need one game at a time this season," Nelson said.

March 22 will mark the beginning of league play for Wood River as it travels to Canyon Ridge. Wood River's first home game of the season will be April 3 against Canyon Ridge.

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