Big innings featuring clutch hitting have been the brand of baseball that the Wood River American Legion Wranglers have been playing during a remarkable 2014 season.
Throw big-time pitching into the Wrangler mix, and you’ve got a first-round victory in the eight-team State “A” Legion tournament that opened Thursday with four games at Nampa’s Rodeo Park.
Starting and winning pitcher Nic Tidwell (4-3) combined with staff ace Finn Isaacson for a strong two-hitter on the hill as Area C runner-up Wood River (30-7) reached the 30-win milestone with an 8-1 triumph over the Boise-area champion Mountain View Toros.
Wood River, trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning of a pitcher’s duel, exploded for five runs that turned the tide. Tidwell (4 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 BB, 2 K) and closer Isaacson (3 innings, 0 hits, 1 BB, 7 K) kept the Toros in check all game.
Isaacson recorded seven of his nine outs by strikeout. He also tripled at the plate.
Christian Hovey (2 hits) started the game-winning rally with an infield single, Dylan Broman (2 hits, 2 runs) added a single and Nelson Cantrell walked to load the bases.
Brandon Benson followed with a two-run triple and scored on an RBI triple by his brother, Cameron Benson (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI). Then Benson scored the fifth and final run on a wild pitch.
Coach Lars Hovey said about Brandon Benson’s clutch hit, “He was really focused with runners on base and didn’t try to do too much.”
As far as Tidwell’s effort, Hovey said, “Nick gave us four big innings and put us in great position for the tournament.”
Wood River reached the semi-finals where the Wranglers will next play Friday at 4 p.m. at Rodeo Park against the winner of today’s first-round game between the Idaho Falls Bees and northern Idaho champion Moscow Blue Devils.