Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Walk-off wins boost WRHS baseball, softball

Diamond teams travel Saturday for tourneys

Express Staff Writer

Wood River High School senior shortstop Armando Gomez tracks down a Canyon Ridge Riverhawk ground ball during Thursday’s 7-6 Wolverine extra inning victory at Founders Field. Photo by Roland Lane

     Junior Ciceley Peavey and freshman Owen Gifford were the walk-off heroes Thursday for the Wood River High School softball and baseball teams in their final home games on the Hailey fields.

     But there were plenty of home heroes to go around on a beautiful spring day as the Wolverine teams completed their home campaigns with a couple of thrilling victories in their final at-bats.

     Peavey, Wood River’s catcher, completed a 4-for-4 day at the plate by driving home freshman Blair Radford with a one-hop, game-winning single to the left field fence as the Wolverines rallied past the Burley Bobcats 4-3 on “Senior Day” at South Valley Sports Complex softball field.

     Coach Dale Martin’s Wood River girls (16-8, 5-2 home, 9-6 league) carried the No. 3 seed into the six-school Great Basin Conference tournament Saturday at Twin Falls High School and played No. 6-seeded Burley (1-14 league) once again.

     Wood River beat Burley 13-3 in that game but lost to No. 2 Canyon Ridge 6-1 later in the day. The Wolverines returned to Twin Falls for more tournament action Tuesday afternoon.

     A couple of hours after Peavey’s game-winning blow Thursday, coach Donnie Green’s Wood River baseball team won the Hailey school’s first GBC tournament game in four years by a 7-6 score in eight innings over the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks at Founders Field.

     Left fielder Gifford, a ninth-grader who finished with three hits, drove home freshman pinch runner Evan Hesselbacher from second base with a two-out line drive that ricocheted off the Canyon Ridge pitcher’s leg and eluded the Riverhawk infielders.

     Cade Schott, another Wood River freshman, had started the game-winning rally with a single. After Burley starting pitcher Spencer Smelser (134 pitches, 13 hits, 6 K) whiffed the No. 8 and No. 9 Hailey hitters, leadoff hitter Gifford pounded a 2-2 pitch off of Smelser’s leg for the winner.

     The hit made a winner of Wood River junior closer Cameron Benson. He pitched three innings of scoreless, no-hit relief and escaped a bases-loaded, two-out Riverhawks threat in the top of the eighth inning with his sixth whiff.

     Wood River, out-hitting Canyon Ridge 13-6 but yielding three unearned runs in the game, snapped a string of nine straight losses at the Great Basin Conference tournament.

     It represented Wood River’s first tournament victory since 2010, when Hailey won 12-6 at Burley. It was Wood River’s first home tourney win at Founders since the Wolverines beat Burley 13-2 in 2007.

     Wood River (10-12) ended its season with a 6-5 home record and became the first Hailey edition to win 10 games since coach Matt Nelson’s Wolverines (10-2) placed second in the conference tournament in 2008 and ended fourth at the State 4A tournament in Nampa.

     The No. 4-seeded Wolverines tried to stay alive in the loser bracket of the six-school tourney Saturday, but lost 10-4 to No. 5 Burley Bobcats on the Bobcat diamond. Minico then eliminated Burley 6-1 Monday.


WRHS softball comeback

     Wood River’s softball team, 9-8 and 24-15 winners at Burley April 24, came out flat in Thursday’s rematch on “Senior Day” for sisters Shelby Cooper and Cassidy Cooper, and Bridget Kernan.

     The Wolverines had yielded 13 unearned runs in Tuesday’s 6-5 and 10-8 Great Basin doubleheader loss at Canyon Ridge and in the process had coughed up any chance to earn the second tournament seed over the Riverhawks.

     So Thursday’s make-up game with Burley was meaningless except for its “Senior Day” implications.

     And Wood River played that way from the outset, running the bases lazily and mustering a feeble hitting attack for the first five innings against Burley pitcher Zoe Ferrin (96 pitches, 4 earned runs, 10 hits, 1 BB, 3 K). Ferrin got ahead in the counts and handcuffed the Wolverines—scattering five hits over five scoreless frames.

     Burley pushed three runs across in the fourth and carried its 3-0 lead into the sixth inning off of Wood River junior pitcher Brittney Bradley (101 pitches, 2 earned runs, 6 hits, 3 BB, 6 K). But Bradley retired Burley 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth innings.

     In the home sixth, Hailey leadoff hitter Ashley Hicks doubled, Peavey followed with an infield single, Bradley lifted an RBI single to right, Cassidy Cooper drove home the second run and Lacy Harrington hit a sacrifice fly tying the game 3-3.

     The Bobcats put two runners aboard with two outs in the seventh and Ferrin came to the plate. She lifted an infield pop that proved to be uncatchable. Confusion in the infield and on the basepaths resulted in the potential go-ahead run cut down at the plate on a rundown throw from third sacker Shelby Cooper to pitcher Bradley.

     Fortunately for Wood River, No. 9 hitter Blair Radford led off the home seventh. Radford had hit the ball hard in both her previous trips against Ferrin and she did it again, launching a rising line drive off the center field fence for a double—her third hit. Hicks drew a walk after fouling off three pitches on a 3-2 count.

     That brought up Peavey, and she belted a 1-2 pitch to the left field fence for the winner.

     Wood River out-hit Burley 10-6 as Bradley (8-5) picked up the win. The two teams will meet again Saturday in Twin Falls with more on the line.


Baseball battle down to the wire

     A big crowd of baseball fans saw a little bit of everything in the two-hour-and-25 minute battle between No. 6-seeded Canyon Ridge (2-12 league) and No. 4-seeded Wood River (3-9).

     The two teams had split a league doubleheader at Founders Field April 10, and Wood River had won a 2-1 game at Canyon Ridge on April 9.

     Wood River first-year coach Green used three pitchers in Thursday’s game.

     They were sophomore starter Dylan Broman (73 pitches, 3.2 innigs, 3 earned runs, 5 hits, 4 BB, 2 K) along with middle reliever Cade Schott (22 pitches, 1.1 innings, 0 earned runs, 1 hit) and closer Benson.

     Meanwhile, Riverhawks coach Dave Slotten stuck with starting pitcher Smelser the whole way. Smelser got better as he went, keeping the ball in the infield and not allowing a Wood River hit out of the infield from the fourth inning through the rest of the game.

     As it turned out, Gifford’s game winner didn’t leave the infield, either, but that’s the way the ball bounces.

     Wood River scored single runs in the first and second for a 2-0 lead. Benson (2 hits) doubled with one out and scored on an RBI single by Reide Whitehead (2 hits, 2 RBI) in the first. Will Long’s one-out triple and RBI single by Schott (3 its) made it 2-0 in the second.

     Two unearned runs for Canyon Ridge in the third tied the score 2-2, but Whitehead’s RBI double in the home third put Wood River ahead 3-2. 

     Canyon Ridge surged ahead 5-3 in the fourth with a two-run double by Braden Griffith (2 hits) sending Broman to the showers. Schott came in for relief and stranded two Riverhawk runners with a pop-up.

     In the home fourth, Wood River rallied with three runs for a 6-5 lead. Gifford brought home a run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Benson added an infield single for a 6-5 score.

     Canyon Ridge tied the game 6-6 with another unearned run in the fifth, but Wood River center fielder Finn Isaacson stopped further damage by running down a long fly ball hit by Riverhawks catcher Tyler Rosos (2 hits) in center.

     Green summoned his catcher, Benson, for relief in the sixth and Benson responded with his first of two straight 1-2-3 innings, striking out five of the six ‘Hawks he faced.

     Wood River couldn’t score with the bases loaded in the home sixth and Canyon Ridge pitcher Smelser retired the home team 1-2-3 in the seventh to set up extra innings.

     A nice infield play at second base by Schott got the first out for Benson in the eighth, but Wood River’s fifth error of the game extended the inning. Two walks, the second intentional, filled the bases. Benson needed only four pitches for the strikeout to end the threat.

     In the home eighth, Schott opened with a single to left and moved to second with a stolen base. Coach Green replaced Schott with pinch runner Hesselbacher, and Gifford came to the plate with two outs.

     He worked the count to 2-2 and then rattled a line drive off of Smelser’s leg. The Riverhawks’ first baseman was moving to his right, responding to the direction of Gifford’s drive—up the middle.

     When the ball glanced off Smelser’s leg, it bounced through the spot normally occupied by the first baseman. Nobody was there to field it. And Hesselbacher raced home with the winning run.

     Armando Gomez, one of two Wood River seniors, had two hits for the Wolverines. The top three Riverhawk hitters went 5-for-13, but Wood River’s three pitchers did the job with the bottom of the Canyon Ridge batting order—allowing only one hit in 18 at-bats from that area of the batting order.

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