When the 2019 Wood River American Legion Wranglers are successful on the baseball diamond, it’s usually because of strong pitching and hitting up-and-down the lineup.
That was the case Monday night when the visiting Wranglers swept their second Area C “A” West Division doubleheader of the season by scores of 7-4 and 12-9 over the host Mountain Home Tigers.
Seven of Wood River’s nine starters hit safely in the opening-game victory secured by staff ace Boone Scherer (3-2), and there were eight different Wrangler hitters in the 12-9 nightcap victory behind Hunter Thompson (3-1 season).
It was a welcome sweep for coach Brian Nelson’s Wood River squad, which had started the season 8-1 but had dropped five of its last seven games and allowed 12.6 runs per game in that struggling late-June span.
Wood River (12-6) improved to 8-1 in its road games, bettered its West Division mark to 8-4 and moved closer to clinching a berth in the 12-team Area C “A” tournament set for July 22-24 in Twin Falls.
Based on regular-season divisional standings, the top four teams in the eight-team West Division advance to the district tournament, joining the top four teams from the nine-team Central Division and the top four teams from the eight-team East Division.
Monday at Mountain Home, Wood River won the first game behind the combined pitching of Scherer (5-plus innings, 107 pitches, 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 8 strikeouts), Jesus Sandoval and Ashton Tanner.
The Wranglers used a three-run fifth for a 4-3 lead, and added three runs in the seventh for a 7-3 cushion.
Ethan Shoemaker continued hot hitting with a 4-for-7 twinbill effort including an RBI single giving the Wranglers a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Andy Ruiz’s RBI triple had tied the game 2-2. Scherer (double) and Thompson added RBI hits.
Wood River scored in each inning of the 12-9 nightcap triumph that featured, between the two teams, 21 runs, 21 hits, 18 walks and 18 strikeouts. There were also six Wrangler batters hit by pitches, so free passes figured prominently.
Thompson (5-plus innings, 107 pitches, 7 hits, 7 runs, 7 strikeouts, 7 walks) was relieved by Shoemaker in the sixth. Hailey’s defense was solid, committing just one error over seven frames.
Ruiz went 3-for-3 and walked twice, scoring three runs. Thompson reached base five times. Shoemaker (2 hits) scorched an RBI double in the seventh. Abel Rojas had a clutch RBI single in the three-run Wrangler fifth that stretched the lead to 10-4.
Wood River’s home mark at Hailey’s Founders Field dipped to 4-5 last week with a West Division doubleheader split against the Canyon Ridge Redhawks, and a 12-3 nine-inning loss to the Central Division Burley Green Sox.
On Thursday, Canyon Ridge from Twin Falls beat Wood River 16-11 in the opener, but the Wranglers gained revenge with an 11-9 nightcap triumph.
Wood River, drawing seven walks along with its nine hits, built leads of 6-0 and 10-3 over Canyon Ridge in the second game before the Redhawks (15 hits) stormed back and tightened the final score in a game that ended after five frames.
Tanner (1-1) earned his first pitching win with four innings of work, allowing four runs.
Leading batters were Shoemaker (2 hits, double, 5 RBI), Blake Nelson (2 hits, 3 runs) and Thompson (2 hits, 2 RBI).
The opener won by the Redhawks 16-11 featured 27 runs, 21 walks and 25 hits.
Canyon Ridge (14 hits) surged ahead 13-0 with a nine-run third. Sparking Wood River’s seven-run seventh were doubles by Ruiz (3 RBI) and Shoemaker (2 hits, 2 runs).
In Friday’s inter-divisional match with Burley, the Green Sox crept ahead 10-3 after five innings and out-hit the sloppy Wranglers (6 errors, 10 strikeouts) by an 18-10 margin.
Losing pitcher Ruiz (6 innings, 13 hits, 1 earned run) and reliever Shoemaker (3 innings, 5 hits, 6 strikeouts) didn’t get much help afield.
Home hitters included Blake Nelson (2 hits, double, 2 runs), Scherer (2 hits, double) and Chance Appell (triple).
Firecracker opens Thursday
The Wranglers travel to Boise diamonds for the 24-team Firecracker holiday tournament Thursday through Sunday, July 4-7. Teams from Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho are expected.
Wood River has five games scheduled in three days at three different diamonds.
The Wranglers open Thursday with an 11:45 a.m. game against the Boise Gems at Mountain View High School in Meridian. Wood River plays again Thursday at 5:15 p.m. against the Boise Seminoles at Capital High School in Boise.
Friday’s challenge is a back-to-back doubleheader at Centennial High against Idaho Falls at 11:45 a.m. and Walla Walla (Wash.) at 2:30 p.m.
The Wranglers finish Saturday at 8 p.m. at Mountain View High against Dalton Baseball Academy of Boise.
Wood River has an Area C inter-divisional doubleheader against Central Division Pocatello Rebels on Monday, July 8 at 4 p.m. at Founders Field.