Friday, July 11, 2014

Legion snaps Pokey’s win streak with 11-1 rout

Isaacson’s gem leads Wranglers (23-3)


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

     The Wood River American Legion baseball team hasn’t had many bad games during a 2014 season that started with a 21-game winning streak. In fact, the Wranglers haven’t endured many bad innings.

     But baseball can be a mentally demanding game that puts up unexpected obstacles in its day-to-day routine. You need to find resilience when the bad games pop up, and you’ve got to put the bad games behind you.

     Coach Lars Hovey’s Wranglers rode that rollercoaster Tuesday at Hailey’s Founders Field when they hosted the unbeaten Pocatello Razorbacks in an Area C “A” twinbill between two teams with the best records in the West Division.

     Pocatello, last summer’s Area C district tournament champion and State “A” runner-up to Nampa, entered the doubleheader after its third tournament win of the season at the Donnelley Sports Firecracker Invitational in Boise over the July 3-6 weekend.

     And the Razorbacks are a veteran team, returning eight of its 14 roster players from last year’s successful run.

     Coach Dan McCaskill’s Razorbacks brought a 34-0 record into Hailey and looked every bit of an unbeaten bunch during Tuesday’s 17-4 first-game victory over Wood River. The Razorbacks dissected the Wranglers with crisp execution, strong defense, solid pitching and team hitting.

     The Razorbacks put on a clinic and broke down the Wranglers, whose cardinal sins included: Eight errors, eight unearned runs, 11 free passes (eight scoring), 161 offerings from two pitchers, and Pokey leadoff runners aboard in six of seven innings (five scoring).

     Between games, Hovey didn’t say much to his high-achieving team—still averaging 10.5 runs per game and yielding only 4.1 runs each outing in their exemplary season.

     “I took it all on myself,” said Hovey. “It was my fault. I overhyped these guys (Pocatello). I should have told the guys we were playing a .500 team. What I told them between games, was just put that one behind us.”

     Fortunately for Wood River, Hovey had saved the team’s pitching ace, righthander Finn Isaacson, for the second game of the doubleheader. And Isaacson delivered one of the best pitching performances, if not the best, of his four-year Wood River and Legion career.

     Isaacson (5-1) brought the Razorbacks down to earth with a six-inning complete game effort in Wood River’s 11-1 run-rule triumph that snapped Pocatello’s 35-game winning streak. He scattered seven hits, allowed just the one earned run, walked none and whiffed six Razorbacks in six frames.

     “Finn was on fire. He pounded the strike zone and gave us the confidence we needed. He threw strikes and our defense made the plays—a couple of big catches in the outfield and our shortstop Cade Schott with two unassisted double plays,” Hovey said.

     Outhit 11-7 by Pocatello in the first game, Wood River turned the tables and outhit the Razorbacks 11-7 in the six-inning nightcap. Yet the Wranglers didn’t have a hit at all through the first three innings of a scoreless second game.

     “Their pitcher, a left-handed submariner (Saben Rodriguez), had a no-hitter through three innings. Then Cam (Cameron Benson) broke up the no-hitter with a single, Finn followed with a triple and the floodgates just opened. Everyone followed their lead,” Hovey said.

     Wood River batted around and scored eight runs. Eight of the 11 Wrangler batters had hits led by Benson (2 hits, 2 runs) and Nelson Cantrell (2 hits, 2 runs). Other hitters were Dylan Broman, Christian Hovey, Owen Gifford, Brandon Benson and Schott. Eight Wranglers drove home runs, and seven scored runs.

     Pocatello coach McCaskill told his hometown newspaper, the Idaho State Journal, that Wood River was a good team and suggested that the Razorbacks would need to show resilience to get back on another winning streak leading up to the July 24-26 district tournament in Twin Falls.

     Of course, the Wood River American Legion hasn’t qualified for that 12-team tournament since 2010, a streak that will be broken this year, just like the Wranglers broke Pocatello’s lengthy run Tuesday.

     “There were so many unknowns this season. We thought we would be building this year. All of a sudden we’re putting things together now,” said Hovey, who is helped by assistant Nick Brunker.

     Highlights for Wood River in Tuesday’s opener were three hits by first baseman Adrian Rojas (2 RBI) and two by Nic Tidwell. Outfielder Christian Hovey had a fine running catch in left field. Third baseman Brandon Benson threw out two runners at the plate, and catcher Cam Benson cut down two runners on the basepaths.

     Pocatello pitcher Braedon Boyer (91 pitches, 5 hits, 3 earned runs) tossed five innings followed by Mason Foltz (2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits).

     Getting two hits apiece for Pokey were catcher Cory Meyer (2 hits, 2 RBI), left fielder C.C. Burrup (2 runs) and first sacker Mike Campbell (2 RBI). Shortstop Ethan Hunt scored four runs and third baseman Kam Farnsworth three.

     Wood River (23-3) hosts Wendell Saturday, July 12 for an 11 a.m. Founders Field twinbill and has the Twin Falls Black Hawks at home Wednesday, July 16 at 3 p.m.

 

 

“Their pitcher, a left-handed submariner (Saben Rodriguez), had a no-hitter through three innings. Then Cam (Cameron Benson) broke up the no-hitter with a single, Finn followed with a triple and the floodgates just opened. Everyone followed their lead,” Hovey said.

Wood River batted around and scored eight runs. Eight of the 11 Wrangler batters had hits led by Benson (2 hits, 2 runs) and Nelson Cantrell (2 hits, 2 runs). Other hitters were Dylan Broman, Christian Hovey, Owen Gifford, Brandon Benson and Schott. Eight Wranglers drove home runs, and seven scored runs.

Pocatello coach McCaskill told his hometown newspaper, the Idaho State Journal, that Wood River was a good team and suggested that the Razorbacks would need to show resilience to get back on another winning streak leading up to the July 24-26 district tournament in Twin Falls.

Of course, the Wood River American Legion hasn’t qualified for that 12-team tournament since 2010, a streak that will be broken this year, just like the Wranglers broke Pocatello’s lengthy run Tuesday.

“There were so many unknowns this season. We thought we would be building this year. All of a sudden we’re putting things together now,” said Hovey, who is helped by assistant Nick Brunker.

Highlights for Wood River in Tuesday’s opener were three hits by first baseman Adrian Rojas (2 RBI) and two by Nic Tidwell. Outfielder Christian Hovey had a fine running catch in left field. Third baseman Brandon Benson threw out two runners at the plate, and catcher Cam Benson cut down two runners on the basepaths.

Pocatello pitcher Braedon Boyer (91 pitches, 5 hits, 3 earned runs) tossed five innings followed by Mason Foltz (2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits).

Getting two hits apiece for Pokey were catcher Cory Meyer (2 hits, 2 RBI), left fielder C.C. Burrup (2 runs) and first sacker Mike Campbell (2 RBI). Shortstop Ethan Hunt scored four runs and third baseman Kam Farnsworth three.

Wood River (23-3) hosts Wendell Saturday, July 12 for an 11 a.m. Founders Field twinbill and has the Twin Falls Black Hawks at home Wednesday, July 16 at 3 p.m.

 

 




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