The Wood River American Legion baseball team has come a long way this summer and the Wranglers clinched something of a milestone Wednesday at Hailey’s Founders Field.
Not only did Wood River qualify for the 12-team Area C “A” district post-season tournament for the first time in four years, they earned the second seed and first-round bye for the double elimination meet set for Thursday through Saturday, July 24-26 in Twin Falls.
Finn Isaacson, the only senior on coach Lars Hovey’s Wranglers, was the winning pitcher as Wood River clinched the second seed with a dominating 19-4 five-inning run-rule victory over the Canyon Ridge Black Hawks from Twin Falls.
Wood River ace Isaacson (6-1) scattered seven hits and allowed no earned runs. He needed 104 pitches, issued four walks and whiffed five Hawks. He was toughest in the clutch, stranding six Twin Falls runners in scoring position.
“This is my last game pitching on this field,” said Isaacson afterward. “We’ve come to believe in ourselves and gained confidence as a team after beating Pocatello two weeks ago.” Isaacson pitched a complete game in that victory at Founders Field over the reigning Area C “A” champion and State “A” runner-up Razorbacks. After Wednesday’s doubleheader, Wood River’s record improved to 27-5 (9-2 home, 18-3 away) and 15-3 West Division.
And they may have to meet Pocatello (41-1) again if the seeding holds up in next week’s tournament in Twin Falls.
But Isaacson, who plans to play college baseball at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore., has faced plenty of adversity in three years as a quiet, reliable pitcher and outfielder for both the Wood River High School and American Legion teams.
Prior to this summer, those ball teams had a combined 31-88 record, and Isaacson (6-20 before this summer on the hill) always seemed to be pitching with runners on the basepaths.
In contrast, the Wrangler offense has been jamming the sacks in 2014 with a scoring average of 10.5 runs per game. Although they got a little help from the Black Hawks on Wednesday, Wood River still banged out 12 hits led by clean-up man Isaacson (2 hits, 4 RBI).
Canyon Ridge’s two pitchers issued 14 free passes—11 walks and three hit batsman—and 11 of those runners scored. Wood River batted around twice during the seven-run third and seven-run fourth that ended the divisional match-up early.
Nine different Wranglers ripped hits led by third-year Wrangler catcher Cam Benson (2 doubles, 3 RBI), Tyler Price (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Christian Hovey (2 RBI), Owen Gifford (3 runs), Brandon Benson (2 runs), Nic Tidwell (2-run double), Nelson Cantrell (2 runs) and Cade Schott (2-run double). Courtesy runners Mikey Levy (4 runs) and Dylan Broman (3 runs) chipped in.
Wood River’s pitching showed some strain in Wednesday’s nightcap as the Black Hawks (18 hits) busted open a 2-2 game with a 10-run, 10-hit fourth and went on to run-rule the Wranglers 20-4 in five innings at Founders.
Canyon Ridge’s Andreus Burton, who led his team in batting (2 hits, 2 RBI) in the opener, pitched the Black Hawks to the victory.
Leading Wood River’s hitting were Adrian Rojas (3 hits, double, 3 RBI), Broman (2 runs), Price, Zach Nelson and Evan Hesselbacher. The Wranglers committed six errors. Tagged with the loss was starting pitcher Cade Schott (2-2).
Wood River will finish its home campaign today, Friday with its nine-inning non-conference finale at 4 p.m. against the Buhl Tribe.
In pre-game ceremonies, Wood River will honor Larry Lloyd of Hailey for his many contributions in coordinating the development of Founders Field and the South Valley Sports Complex athletic fields.
Lloyd, nicknamed “Gooch,” has been a supporter of Wood River Baseball ever since his son Eli played here in the early 1990s. Lloyd helped found the Wood River High School baseball program in 1992 and served for many years as assistant coach to program co-founder Lars Hovey.
This week’s Area C “A” games will formalize bracketing for next week’s 12-team tournament in Twin Falls.