On the diamond, basketball court and football field, Austin Hafer has provided Wood River High School athletic teams with athleticism and leadership since moving to the Wood River Valley from Boise in 2011 prior to his senior year.
Hafer, a righthanded hitter but left-handed thrower, turned out to be the "man" once again Monday at Hailey's Founders Field in the second game of an American Legion Area C "A" baseball doubleheader against the defending district champion Pocatello Razorbacks.
Given the ball after Wood River (8 errors, 9 unearned runs) slogged through a 16-2 five-inning loss to Pocatello in the first game, Hafer did the job on the hill for the Wranglers. Hafer (2-1) threw a complete-game 10-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 7-6 Wranglers victory.
Wood River (4-6), having won only one of its last six games, thus celebrated a hard-earned triumph over one of southern Idaho's best Legion "A" clubs. Winners of five of their last six games, the Razorbacks (14-8) were champions of the Nampa Father's Day Invitational tournament June 17.
There was nothing easy about the 7-6 win—Wood River's first home victory of the summer campaign.
Yet if coach Trent Seamons' Wranglers (15 hits in Monday's twinbill) are doing one thing consistently this summer, it's putting runners on base.
They're just not always bringing them home.
After leaving 10 runners on base in the first game—eight in scoring position—the Wranglers left 11 aboard in the nightcap. But they did get a few clutch hits to push them home.
Trailing 4-3 in the home sixth, Wood River rallied for four runs against Razorbacks reliever Andy Burtenshaw.
Tim Boyle worked a leadoff walk on five pitches and Hafer (2 hits, 3 runs) drilled a 2-0 offering to left for a double. With one out, third baseman Brandon Benson (2 hits) ripped a two-run double for a 5-4 lead.
Wood River tacked on two more runs for a 7-4 lead after walks to Joe McGonigal and Junior Solis, and a series of passed balls and wild pitches.
Hafer went back to the mound needing only three outs for the victory, but Pocatello's Justin Stiffler and Burtenshaw greeted him with leadoff singles. Razorbacks coach summoned big Zach Arzola as a pinch-hitter—the lefty slugger representing the tying run at the plate with nobody out.
But southpaw Hafer whiffed Arzola on three pitches, the final one a curve ball that froze the big guy and retired him, looking. The next hitter, Robert Nigh, got ahead on the count 3-0, but Hafer regrouped and struck him out, swinging. Chase Teter's two-run double made it 7-6, then Hafer enticed an infield pop-out to end it with the tying run at third base.
Hafer (10 hits, 5 BB, 10 K) struck out the side in the fifth after the Razorbacks had scored three times for a 4-2 lead. Another leader at the plate for Wood River was catcher/shortstop Nic Brunker, with four hits in the double dip.
Wood River jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning of the second game on walks to Cameron Benson and Hafer, followed by a run-scoring single by Brunker and bases-loaded walk drawn by Solis. In the fourth the Wranglers added one run when Hafer was plunked and Brunker ripped an RBI double.
In Monday's first game, Wood River pitchers Cameron Benson and Boyle gave up 10 hits and yielded nine unearned runs in the 16-2 loss. Brunker and third baseman Alec Nordsieck had two singles apiece.
For Pocatello, Stiffler (4 hits, 4 RBI) stroked two doubles and righthander Logan Schmidt (7 hits, 4 BB, 5 K) tossed the complete game on 111 pitches.
Wood River resumes action Monday, July 9 with a home doubleheader against Blackfoot's Broncos at Founders.