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For the week of May 9 through May 15, 2001

Beck's five-hitter for Wood River forces a deciding game

Wolverines, Tribe will battle for SCIC title today at Founders Field

Lanky junior righthander Matt Beck picked a great time to pitch the best game of his high school baseball career for the Wood River High School Wolverines.

With great control, a nasty forkball and plenty of movement on his fastball, Beck (4-2) threw a strong five-hitter at the powerful Buhl Tribe and gave Wood River a chance to play another day with a 7-2 victory at Buhl's Clint Faux Field. Wood River's five-run second inning capped by Jake Upham's three-run homer were all the runs Beck needed.

It was a huge win for coach Lars Hovey's Wolverines, because Beck's 102-pitch complete game swung the momentum and the home field advantage back to top-seeded Wood River. The Wolverines will get a chance for a rare "threepeat" today, Wednesday at 5 p.m. when they entertain the Tribe at Hailey's Founders Field in the deciding game of the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference tournament. Wood River has won the SCIC tournament and its automatic state tournament berth for two consecutive years, by a 14-13 score over Buhl in 1999 at Founders Field and by a 4-1 score at Clint Faux Field last May.

Wood River (20-7), earning a 20-win spring season for the second straight year, will be seeking its third consecutive state tournament berth with a victory. Buhl (22-4) is likely to send its ace righthander Seth Mathews to the mound today as coach Gary Krumm's Tribe seeks its first district title since 1996.

The winner of today's game secures a ticket to the State A-2 tournament May 17 at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore. The loser of today's game advances to an intra-district do-or-die playoff game Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. at Mountain Home against the Third District runner-up team, which would be Middleton, Payette or Weiser.

Although Beck won Wood River's SCIC tournament opener 15-2 over Filer on Friday, Beck hadn't been given the ball for many of the big Wolverine games this season. Having been forced to play four and possibly five games in six days because of the team's 8-6 home loss to Buhl and Mathews Saturday, Hovey needed all the pitching depth he could summon, and he picked Beck to pitch the biggest game of Wood River's season Tuesday.

Hovey said, "We were looking for Matt to get us through four innings and get through the heart of their lineup twice, then we could bring someone else in to show Buhl something different. But Matt looked so good, with the exception of one Buhl batter, Jeff Walker, that we stuck with him. And he did great, holding his composure when the strike zone seemed to get a little smaller near the end of the game."

Beck noticed in warm-ups and early in the game that his fastball seemed to be tailing inside to righthanded batters--and eight of nine Buhl batters are righthanders. His catcher, sophomore Kellen Chatterton, said after the game, "Matt's fork ball was working well and his fast ball had a lot of movement."

Jeff Walker, Buhl's starting pitcher and its #2 batter, homered to right field in his first two at-bats. Otherwise Beck was in control, enticing 11 ground ball outs and benefiting from two double plays, the second from shortstop Cory Goicoechea (6 assists, 2 putouts) to second baseman Nic Nottingham to first baseman Jeff Bolton ending the game. Beck walked five Tribe batters, but none of them scored.

"It was a good solid game. We had one big inning, and luckily it was enough," said Hovey.

The big inning came in the second. Designated hitter Ryne Reynoso (2 hits) ripped a leadoff single to right and left fielder Joe Molyneux drilled a 1-2 Walker pitch to the right center field fence for an RBI double. With two outs, Chatterton, who has reached base 10 of 11 times in the last three games, drew one of his three walks of the game. It was a huge walk. The next batter, Max Paisley (2 hits), pulled an RBI single to left field for a 2-1 Wood River lead. The Hailey squad never trailed again because Upham, who has reached base 11 of 13 times in the last three games including three hits yesterday, pounded a three-run homer over the right field fence for a 5-1 Wolverine cushion.

The rest of the game was all Beck and his defense. Buhl's batting strength, its first through fifth batters, went a combined 2-for-15, and those two hits were Walker's solo homers which accounted for all of Buhl's scoring. Beck's tailing fastball and forkball sawed off the Tribe sluggers all day. In the fifth inning with two outs and Buhl's T.J. Cline at first base with a walk, Beck went to work on Buhl clean-up hitter Sean Van Elderen. On a 3-2 count with Cline at second, Beck threw what he called his best pitch of the game to Van Elderen, a forkball that twisted the big guy out of there, swinging, on the corner.

Wood River outhit Buhl 10-5.

A quick game at one hour and 50 minutes, Tuesday's contest was a tidy defensive affair. But things could change quickly today at Founders Field.

"Who knows what will happen tomorrow?" Hovey said after the game. "It might take 20 runs to win it."




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