The Wood River Wranglers and Buhl Tribe slugged it out on offense like middleweights Tuesday afternoon at Hailey’s Founders Field in a lively early-season baseball game that figured to come down to the final inning and final at-bat.
It did—and Wood River’s No. 8 hitter Gunner Gibson ended it with a one-out bases-loaded single lofted over the drawn-in Tribe outfield. It drove home catcher Cam Benson with the walk-off game winner in the 13-12 Wrangler triumph.
Gibson was the hitting hero in Wood River’s season-high 19-hit attack. His three-run triple capped a four-run Wrangler fourth for an 11-9 lead and the home team never trailed again.
Three hours in length, the American Legion Area C “A” league battle featured 25 runs, 32 hits, 17 walks, 9 errors, numerous base-running miscues, fine defensive plays and clunkers as well, five pitchers and 336 pitches thrown.
Wood River coach Trent Seamons steadied his squad from the outset with his theme of “trusting the process” and hanging together over a full game. The bats responded. The top five Wrangler batters went 15-for-22 (10 runs scored, 8 RBI).
Nick Brunker (2 hits, 3 RBI) stroked a two-run single giving Wood River a 4-2 lead in the first. Buhl tied it 4-4 with a pair of unearned runs in the second off of Wranglers starter Alec Nordsieck. Wood River answered with two runs in the home second on RBI singles by Finn Isaacson (3 hits, 2 RBI) and clean-up hitter Cam Benson (4 hits, 3 runs, 3 RBI).
Buhl started pulling away with a five-run third for a 9-6 lead in the third, but Wood River’s defense cut down a pair of Tribe runners on the base-paths to minimize the damage.
Gibson lifted Hailey back on top with his bases-clearing triple one-hopped off the left field fence in the fourth. After Buhl tied it 11-11 in the fifth, Bryce John (3 hits, 3 runs) opened with a single and scored on Cam Benson’s infield hit for a 12-11 Wood River advantage.
With Buhl threatening, winning pitcher Brunker (2-plus innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run) bailed middle reliever John out of a bases-loaded jam with a clutch strikeout in the fifth. Then Brunker also picked off a Tribe runner in the sixth to help choke off another rally.
Cam Benson, Brunker and Nordsieck all drew walks to lead off the final frame, and Gibson ended it belting the ball over the center fielder’s head for the winner. Wrangler leadoff hitter Brandon Benson (3 hits, 2 runs) also enjoyed a multi-hit game for the winners.
Buhl, which scored 26 runs for the day, heated up toward the end of Tuesday’s nightcap won in run-rule fashion by the Tribe 14-4 in five frames. Tribe righty Jake Anderson (5 innings, 7 hits) held the Wranglers in check for the victory.
Cam Benson ripped a triple, Brandon Benson added a two-run single and Lane Felger added an RBI single for Hailey.
Starter Isaacson (7 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 BB, 5 K) held Buhl scoreless the first two innings, but the Tribe scored 4-5-5 runs in the third through fifth helped by six Wrangler errors.
Wood River (5-4, 3-1 league) travels for another league twinbill Monday, June 24 at 4 p.m. against the Twin Falls Cowboys.