Wood River American Legion baseball players picked up valuable early-season experience against tough teams last weekend during the 12-team Father’s Day Wood Bat Classic tournament on Nampa fields.
The Wranglers (4-3, 2-0 league) also picked up a pair of wins to finish the four-day tournament in ninth place entering their Area C “A” West Division home doubleheader against the Buhl Tribe Tuesday at Hailey’s Founders Field.
On Sunday, Wood River nailed down its ninth-place finish with a 7-2 victory over the GNBC Badgers from Nevada in a game that featured a strong long relief effort by winning right-handed pitcher Adrian Rojas (6 innings, 0 earned runs, 3 hits, 3 BB, 6 K).
“It was a huge performance by Adrian,” said Wood River coach Trent Seamons.
Seamons summoned Rojas after starting pitcher Cam Benson felt tightness in his throwing arm and was relieved after one inning. The coach said, “Adrian got ahead with first-pitch strikes and set an example for the rest of our pitchers.”
At the plate, Wood River (8 hits) got hits from eight of nine starters and scored in four of six at-bats. Knocking two-run singles were Dylan Broman, Nickolaus Brunker and Bryce John. Rojas also brought home a run. Wood River scored twice in each of its final two at-bats.
“Overall I thought we did pretty well at the tournament,” said Seamons, who took a squad of 14 players. Assistant coaches were Tyler Israel, Greg Wakefield and Kyle Rose. “It’s nice to see really good competition, and I thought we had one of the tougher schedules of all the teams at the tournament.”
Indeed, Wood River’s three losses came to teams that finished 1-3-4 in the tournament.
Thursday, the third-place Meridian Rangers beat Wood River 10-4 at Skyview High School field. Starting pitcher Brandon Benson (2 earned runs, 3 hits, 9 BB) had problems with control. Reliever John came in and settled things down. Cam Benson delivered two of four Wrangler hits.
Capitalizing on walks and patience at the plate, Wood River bounced back Friday at Skyview with a 16-6 four-inning triumph over the Treasure Valley Stars. Winning pitcher Alec Nordsieck (3 hits, 3 earned runs, 6 K) threw four frames and got a nice cushion from a six-run Wood River first frame.
Second baseman Bryce John (3 hits, 4 RBI) and Brunker (2-run double) led the Wrangler hitters, with Nordsieck and Brandon Benson also chipping in with run-scoring hits.
The Wranglers had a challenging doubleheader Saturday at Nampa’s Rodeo Park Field—dropping their first game 10-1 to the eventual champion Pocatello Razorbacks and falling 12-4 to the Nampa Braves in an eventful evening game.
Costly errors hurt Wood River against Pocatello. Starting pitcher Brunker (4 hits, 0 earned runs, 4 BB) threw three innings followed by three more frames from reliever Broman (5 hits, 2 earned runs, 5 BB). Brandon Benson (3 hits, RBI doble) led the six-hit attack.
Seamons called the nightcap against Nampa “an interesting game,” revolving around the home plate umpire’s small strike zone that the Wrangler coaches didn’t appreciate. “Finn (Isaacson) was on, hitting his spots,” said Seamons about his starting pitcher who wasn’t getting the close calls.
Righthanded ace Isaacson (3-plus innings, 9 runs, 6 hits, 8 BB, 2 K) caught the brunt of trying to figure out what was a strike, and what wasn’t.
“We gave up some walks and they (fourth-place Nampa) had timely hitting. We played a lot better than the score. Bryce John did an excellent job coming in and shutting them down,” said Seamons.
Contributing to the seven-hit Wrangler production were Broman (2 hits, double), Isaacson (RBI single), Cam Benson (leadoff triple, run), Brunker and John (2-run single).
Winning the tournament with a 5-0 record were the Pocatello Razorbacks by a 5-4 score over the Northern Utah Eagles Sunday. Pocatello (11-2, 2-2 league), a member of Wood River’s Area C “A” nine-team West Division, captured its sixth straight victory.
Pocatello pitcher Trevor Bowers started the Razorbacks on the right foot Thursday throwing a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts in an 8-1 triumph over Richland (Wash.). Seamons said, “Pocatello looks like one of the better teams in our league this season.”
Here are results of Sunday’s other placement games:
l 3rd place—Meridian Rangers 6-2 over Nampa Braves.
l 5th place—Twin Falls Hawks 6-3 over Treasure Valley Stars.
l 7th place—Okotoks Dawgs (Canada) 6-4 over Richland (Wash.) Knights.
l 11th place—Canyon County 4-3 over Kuna Diamondbacks.
Wood River embarks on the first games of a 16-game road trip Monday, June 24 at 4 p.m. against the Twin Falls Cowboys, then it’s off to Blackfoot next Tuesday for another West Division twinbill, also at 4 p.m.