Wood River’s team honoring Larry “Gooch” Lloyd before Friday’s game against Buhl. From Left to right: Owen Gifford, Christian Hovey, Brandon Benson, Nelson Cantrell, Jens Blackman, Nic Tidwell, Cam Benson, Finn Isaacson, Larry “Gooch” Lloyd, Cade Schott, Adrian Rojas, Tyler Price, Dylan Broman, Lane Felger, Mikey Levy, Evan Hesselbacher and Zach Nelson.
Express photo by Willy Cook
With wrapping up a 27-6 record and the No. 2 seed in this week’s Area C 12-team District Tournament in Twin Falls, the Wood River Wranglers had a chance to honor a local baseball legend and have fun on the diamond in its last home game against Buhl which took place on Friday, July 18.
Wood River honored Larry Lloyd of Hailey for his contributions in coordinating the development of Founders Field and the South Valley Sports Complex athletic fields.
Larry “Gooch” Lloyd threw out the first pitch of the game and was honored during the 7th inning stretch with a jersey retiring ceremony and speech from Gooch himself.
Lloyd had been a supporter of Wood River Baseball ever since his son Eli played in the valley in the early 1990s. Lloyd helped found the Wood River High School baseball program in 1992 and served as assistant coach to program co-founder and current Wood River Wranglers coach Lars Hovey.
“The day went really well,” Hovey said. “It was good to see old and familiar faces that helped with the field and ball program in the past. It was good to see them honor Larry.”
In the actual nine-inning non-conference finale against Buhl, however, Wood River couldn’t come through on the special day as Buhl stacked six runs in the 7th inning to pull away from the Wranglers to win, 10-6.
Christian Hovey (4-0) got the start on the mound and looked as if he was cruising for most of the contest as the game was tied at 2-2 going into the 6th inning. Hovey was high in the pitch count; however, with the game not meaning anything as far as standings or seeding in the tournament, Hovey’s arm was spared.
Hovey struck out three and allowed just one earned run on two hits.
Coach Hovey wanted to exercise the importance of the day by letting all of his players play.
“I wasn’t too concerned with the game itself,” Hovey said. “I just wanted to make sure everyone got in the game.”
Owen Gifford came in for relief of Hovey, but Buhl figured Gifford out as Buhl tacked on six runs to take the lead. This was Gifford’s first loss of the season as he tallied up a 3-1 record for the year.
Gifford allowed seven hits and five earned runs while striking out just one batter.
Gifford, however, did have the most productive bat while getting two hits, a run and an RBI while walking twice.
Nelson Cantrell, Cam Benson, Finn Isaacson, Nic Tidwell, Cade Schott and Christian Hovey all had hits in the game.
The Wranglers will turn their attention to the Area C District Tournament on Thursday in Twin Falls. Wood River kicks off the tournament on Thursday at 3 p.m. and will face the winner of the Rigby Trojans and Twin Falls Cowboys.
Wood River has yet to play Rigby, however, swept Twin Falls earlier this summer, 11-1 and 10-0 respectively.
In both games, Wood River totaled 19 hits and pitched brilliantly.
Coach Hovey said he anticipates Rigby winning the first round contest. If Rigby does end up winning, Hovey will start Finn Isaacson on the mound. Isaacson finished the summer with a 6-1 record as is the team’s ace pitcher.
If Twin Falls win, Wood River will go with Christian Hovey on the mound so the Wranglers can save Isaacson’s arm for the following round, which would most likely be against the Idaho Falls Knights. Wood River has yet to play Idaho Falls.