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For the week of May 15 - 21, 2002


Wood River holds off Kimberly 3-2 for district title

Wolverines complete 13-0 home baseball campaign, head to state

Express Staff Writer

It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective for the Wood River High School baseball team in Tuesday’s Fourth District 3A championship game at Founders Field in Hailey.

After pushing three runs across the plate in the first inning, top-seeded Wood River (22-5 overall) hung on to beat upset-minded Kimberly 3-2 and win the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference tournament flag for the third time in four years.

Not only did Wood River earn a berth in the State 3A tournament over Memorial Day weekend, the Wolverines completed an unprecedented 13-0 home campaign at Founders Field and ended the season unbeaten in SCIC play at 9-0.

Fireballer Ryne Reynoso came on in relief of starter Matt Beck in the sixth inning and doused a potential big Kimberly rally—stranding the tying run at third base with two strikeouts. Reynoso whiffed four of the six batters he faced for his first save.

It was Wood River’s 18th win in 19 games, but it was also the lowest run total for the Wolverines (8.7 runs per game on offense, 4.6 defense) since their trip to San Diego March 25-27.
"We came into the game hitting .468 in the tournament and we planned on pounding the ball against Kimberly," said Wolverine coach Lars Hovey. "It didn’t work out that way."

Both Kimberly runs were unearned as two Wood River errors opened the door for the #4-seeded Bulldogs (7-17-2). The Wolverines had beaten Kimberly four times by a combined 45-7 score this season, but Kimberly came to Hailey with a head of steam after upsetting #2-seeded Buhl 9-8 Monday.

Although Wood River’s defense made 10 errors in their three SCIC tournament victories, they won all three games.

Coach Hovey, acknowledging that Tuesday’s win over Kimberly wasn’t Wood River’s best game, said, "Three or four games this year we haven’t played that well, but we’ve won them anyway—and a couple of those were big games. We’ve been able to find a way to win."

They’ll have to catch the ball and run the bases better at state. A couple of Wolverine base running mistakes took the home team out of potential big innings Tuesday afternoon on a sun-baked day before 180 fans.

In the first inning, Kimberly threatened with a pair of leadoff singles, but starting pitcher Beck (10-1 on the season) dove to catch a popped-up sacrifice bunt attempt, and second baseman Matt Conover made a fine diving catch on a grounder up the middle for the third out.

Wood River struck quickly.

Conover’s first-pitch single set the tone off Kimberly’s #3 pitcher, Dustin Lammers. Third baseman Paul Tinker walked with one out and first baseman Jeff Bolton ripped an RBI single. Left fielder Nic Nottingham drilled a two-run triple for a 3-0 lead, but Nottingham was thrown out at home on a bouncing ball to short and Wood River’s rally stalled.

The home team never scored again—the Wolverines leaving runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth frames including a bases loaded situation in the fifth.

Beck was cruising along on all cylinders, building his bid for a shutout through five innings. Then, lightning struck in the visitor sixth.

Conover made another fine diving stop on a tough grounder, but his throw to first went for an error. The next batter, Bulldog clean-up hitter Matt Bulcher, drove a long fly to left. Nottingham got turned around on the ball and it glanced off his glove for another Hailey error. John Mason ripped an RBI single up the middle cutting Wood River’s lead to 3-1.

That was all for Beck, who went to the showers with two runners on base and no outs. Beck finished with a six-hitter, allowing no earned runs and throwing 75 pitches.

Coach Hovey, preparing for an emergency, had started warming up Reynoso in the fourth. He summoned Reynoso, who enticed the first out on a grounder to Tinker at third. A passed ball scored Kimberly’s second run, but Reynoso whiffed the final two Bulldogs to keep the score 3-2.

Kimberly went 1-2-3 in the seventh as the Wolverines—although out-hit 6-5—captured their fourth straight win.

Afterwards, Hovey said, "We’ll take tomorrow off, and maybe Saturday, and let them regroup and prepare themselves to take the final step."

Wood River, making its fourth consecutive state tournament appearance, begins its 2002 quest Thursday, May 23 at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.

The Wolverines will meet the Fifth District runner-up (southeastern Idaho) May 23 at 4 p.m. The eight-team State 3A tournament continues Friday and Saturday, May 24-25.

Wood River tied the school’s single-season record for wins with 22 Tuesday, so they’ll need one win at state to break it.

Nevertheless, Hovey has questions about the depth of the Wood River pitching staff, behind Beck and Reynoso (7-1). Drew Detwiler, Jeff Hunter and Jeff Bolton are all possibilities as Wood River envisions a best-case scenario of playing three games in three days at the state tournament.

Meanwhile, SCIC runner-up Kimberly has to win a playoff game Saturday, May 18 to earn a berth in the state meet.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.