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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 28 - June 3, 2003


A sweet taste at state

WR baseball rules for first state title

Express Staff Writer

High expectations were a motivating force for the Wood River High School baseball team during last weekend’s State 3A baseball tournament at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.

Ranked first in Idaho for most of the season, Wood River was supposed to win—and the Wolverines completely dominated with depth and pitching strength. The result was Wood River’s first state baseball title in the school’s fifth try.

The outcome capped a one-year pursuit of baseball excellence that started with Wood River’s fourth-place finish at state in 2002 and continued through summer American Legion baseball and the spring season with one goal in mind:

A state championship.

Coach Lars Hovey’s Hailey powerhouse (25-4-1) won its three state tournament games by scores of 11-1, 10-0 and 15-1 and wrapped up a school record-setting spring campaign with a lucky 13 consecutive victories on the diamond.

The Wolverines outscored three foes 36-2 and out-hit them 32-14. They set school records for most wins (25), most runs (334, or 11.1 runs a game) and fewest runs allowed (109, 3.6 runs). They allowed only eight runs in the final six games.

Hovey said, "We made some adjustments defensively at state to shore up some positions. We made the big plays when we needed them. Otherwise we played good solid defense and made routine plays."

The coach added, "Last year’s summer program was a huge part of our success because the kids came in ready to go from the first pitch of the year. Our goal for the last few years has been to win state. This year it finally happened.

"It was just an unbelievable, remarkable year."

Saturday’s 15-1 title game triumph over Teton (16-9) featured a 12-hit Hailey attack.

There was nothing fancy or bat-bashing, just slow rollers and seeing-eye hits that put unrelenting pressure on the Redskins defense (5 errors). Seven of the 15 Wood River runs were unearned.

Leadoff batter Matt Conover (4-for-5, 3 runs scored) set the table and Wood River manufactured two seven-run rallies. Amazingly, 11 different Wolverines scored runs and eight had RBIs. Senior Paul Tinker and sophomore Tyler Thiede each had two hits for Hailey.

The other two Wood River blowout wins came in similar fashion, with everybody chipping in at the plate and nearly everybody scoring runs.

"It was everybody through the lineup," Hovey said.

On a hot weekend with temperatures hitting 97 degrees, Wood River was hot with its bats (team .386 batting), with its gloves (1 error in 16 innings) and particularly on the mound with senior Ryne Reynoso and soph Steve Hansen.

Righthanded ace Reynoso (11-2 season), who allowed only 15 runs in his last 10 starts of the season, wasn’t his sharpest (8 walks) in winning Wood River’s opener 11-1 over Sugar-Salem Thursday and pitching Hailey to the 15-1 championship over Teton Saturday.

But Reynoso battled his way out of every problem.

He stranded six Diggers in scoring position in the 11-1 run-rule win over Sugar-Salem. Against Teton Saturday, Reynoso (9 K) threw 96 pitches, 67 for strikes, and ended each inning with a strikeout.

Most teams were happy to have one pitching ace at state, but Wood River had two.

As good as Reynoso was, righthander Hansen was even better in the vitally important 10-0 triumph over last year’s state champion Fruitland on Friday night.

The weight of the world was on crafty control pitcher Hansen (8-1). With the help of sturdy senior catcher Kellen Chatterton, Hansen baffled a Fruitland squad that had killed Hailey’s state hopes one year ago with a stunning 19-5 defeat.

Hansen threw just 62 pitches in five masterful innings, 44 for strikes. He whiffed the final batter of the inning three times on nasty 55-foot breaking balls. In the second and third, protecting a 3-0 lead, Hansen stranded five in scoring position including a bases-loaded situation.

You’ve got to field your position and Hansen showed he was up to the task in the first frame. So did the rest of the Wood River infield defense. One bang-bang play laid to rest any questions about the Wolverine defense, which had faltered at the 2002 state tourney.

After giving up an infield single to Fruitland leadoff hitter Ty Smith and wild-pitching Smith to second, Hansen gloved a hard grounder up the middle by #2 hitter Will Robinson.

Hansen alertly hung Smith out to dry between second and third and his infielders ran him down, Paul Tinker throwing to Brady Femling for the out.

Femling then spotted Robinson trying to sneak into second base, behind the play, and threw immediately to shortstop Steve Durkin, who completed the timely 1-5-4-6 double play.

"That was a big play. It seemed to take the air out of Fruitland," said Hovey. "Steve did a great job. And who would have thought he’d throw a five-inning shutout at the defending state champions?"

In the home first, Chatterton drilled a solo homer over the left field fence, Durkin added an RBI single and Joe Paisley ripped a ground-rule, RBI double for a 3-0 lead.

Paisley was unconscious, going 5-for-5 the first two games before Fruitland plunked him square on top of the noggin. By that time, the damage had been done, Hailey leading 8-0.

Fruitland’s big swingers never made an outfield out against Hansen.

In fact, in Wood River’s final two games, the outfielders could have taken a seat or went out for lunch. Reynoso never allowed an outfield out against Teton. He gave up two bloop singles, two infield singles and only one line drive single.

The championship game was over in the second when Wood River sent up 11 batters in a seven-run outburst.

It started with a quiet one-out walk to Dylan McIlhenny. Next, Thiede lined the only hard hit, a double in the gap. Then it was garbage time. All Wood River had to do was hit the ball and run the bases and watch small miracles occur.

Baseball is like that, though, and it was Wood River’s time to shine and enjoy the good bounces—thanks to the hard work of its players and the staff of Hovey, Larry Lloyd, Steve Anderson and Billy Neal.

Actually, the blowouts made state a dream trip for the coaches. "I made out the lineups and that’s all I did. The players did it all," said Hovey.

Fruitland (19-8) captured third place with a 10-3 victory over Middleton (15-13). Sugar-Salem (19-9) followed up its opening-round loss to Wood River with two wins including the consolation championship over Bonners Ferry (19-8) by a 12-3 count.

Wood River was one of four Fourth District teams in the championship games of their groups Saturday in sweltering southeastern Idaho.

Jerome won the State 4A title 13-7 over Madison; Twin Falls lost the 5A championship 8-4 to Eagle; and Glenns Ferry dropped the 2A title game 7-1 to New Plymouth.


WOLVERINE NOTES—With its 3-0 record last weekend, Wood River squared its five-year state mark at 7-7.

Ryne Reynoso (11-2 season, 23-5) finished as Wood River’s all-time pitching leader. He broke the record of Matt Zachary (21-5), current Albertson College pitcher who was watching Saturday’s title game. Reynoso won eight straight decisions after his 2-1 loss to Lasalle (Ca.) at Las Vegas April 18….Boston College-bound Reynoso will return to Treasure Valley CC Saturday, May 31 and play a game as a member of the Idaho All-Star senior team….

Reynoso’s fellow Wolverine seniors Tory Haavik and Josh Pejsa kept track of his strikeouts in the championship game by taping "Ks" to the bleachers……In its 13-game win streak to end the 2003 season, Wood River outscored opponents 139 to 36….The stingy Wolverine defense yielded only 8 runs in the last 6 pressure-cooker games and committed only one throwing error in 16 innings of three state tournament games….Wood River’s four losses this season were by a total of 10 runs, including a 25-22 loss to eventual State 4A champion Jerome April 10 that was the only Wolverine home loss in 2003…..

At state, Wood River (.386 team batting) whiffed only 7 times in 83 official at-bats at state. The hitting was uniformly strong, led by its 1-2-3 batters of seniors Matt Conover, Kellen Chatterton and Ryne Reynoso—who together reached base 24 times in 39 official at-bats. Here are the top state batting stats:

Conover 12 at-bats, 5 runs, 5 hits, 2 RBI for .417 average; Chatterton 10-2-2-4 (HR) for .200; Reynoso 9-2-3-5 (3 doubles, 3 BB) for .333; Paul Tinker 11-4-5-4 (2 doubles) for .455; Steve Durkin 5-3-2-2 for .400 with 4 BB and 1 HBP; Joe Paisley 9-5-5-4 for .556; Dylan McIlhenny 7-4-4-3 for .571; Tyler Thiede 5-3-3-2 for .600; Brady Femling 2-4-1-0 for .500.



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