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Wolverines Sweep the Bobcats
 
           
 
Friday, April 20, 2018
 

BY MICHAEL DAVID

The Wood River Wolverines baseball team welcomed their conference foes, the Burley Bobcats, to Founders Field on Thursday, hoping to solidify their third place position in the Great Basin Conference standings.

Proving not the most hospitable hosts, Wood River swept both games of the double-header, winning 8-2 in Game 1 and 4-3 in Game 2. The Wolverines (9-8 overall, 6-3 in Conference) played nearly flawless defense, got fantastic starting pitching and had timely hitting in both games to defeat the struggling Bobcats (3-16, 1-8).

Andy Ruiz started the first game and dominated the Burley hitters from the outset. Ruiz pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on only three hits while striking out seven Bobcats. A model of efficiency, he retired the leadoff batter on the first pitch in the first three innings and held Burley scoreless until the fourth inning. After allowing two runs in the fourth, he buckled down and shut out his opponents the rest of the way.

Ruiz credited his teammates defense and his battery-mate’s game plan, saying, When you have great defense behind you and Ike calling a great game, its a lot easier.”

While Ruiz stymied the Burley offensive attack, the Wolverines bats clicked in support of his fine pitching performance.

Andrew Nelson used his bat and his legs to get Wood River on the scoreboard in the first inning. Leading off the game with a sharp opposite field single to left, Nelson stole second and moved to third on Christian Hovey’s single. With Jett Erickson at the plate, Hovey broke for second and, when the catcher attempted to throw Hovey out, Nelson took off for home. Hovey beat the throw at second and Nelson scampered home, executing the double steal to perfection to take a 1-0 lead.

Fabian Leos lead off the second inning with a base on balls after a prolonged at bat against Burley’s 6-foot-10 starting pitcher, Andrew Ferrin. Klayton Douthit reached on an error, and Huck Sprong legged out an infield single to load the bases with no outs. Blake Nelson brought home Leos on a ground out, and Andrew Nelson did the same to score Douthit to put Wood River up 3-0.

The Wolverines exploded for four runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning, as Andrew Nelson, Hovey and Erickson singled to open the inning and load the bases.  With Buxton batting, a wild pitch scored Nelson to make the score 4-2. Burley decided to give the power-hitting Buxton an intentional walk and instead face Ruiz with the bases loaded.  Ruiz made the Bobcats regret that decision as he lined a 2-RBI single to break the game open. Sprong spanked a single to center to score Buxton and the Wolverines were cruising, up 7-2 after five innings.

Hovey completed the scoring in the bottom of the sixth, racing home from third base on a wild pitch following his booming triple to the right-center gap.  Ruiz and the defense did the rest, as he retired Burley in order in the top of the seventh to complete the impressive victory.

Hovey took the mound in game two looking to complete the sweep. Although less efficient than his fellow starting pitcher, he battled through the first three innings without allowing a run. The Wolverine’s strong defense foiled multiple scoring opportunities and frustrated the Bobcats who were desperately hoping to take one of two games on the road.

Dom Leos snagged a sinking line drive in left field in the first inning and doubled off the Burley runner at second base to end a threat in the first. Hovey gloved a sharply struck ball right back at him in the second and picked off a base runner at first to send the Bobcats back to the dugout scoreless. And Leos came to the rescue again, making a perfect throw home, as Erickson tagged the Burley runner attempting to score in the third inning.

Andrew Nelson got the scoring started in Game 2 as well, singling sharply over the leaping shortstop to lead off the game. A Hovey sacrifice bunt moved the speedy Nelson all the way to third base. Erickson walked and stole second base with Buxton at the plate.  Successive wild pitches scored Nelson and Erickson to give the home team a 2-0 lead. Ruiz reached on an infield single and came around to score on a Burley error to make the score 3-0 after the first inning.

Sprong singled to open the second inning and moved to 3rd on a single by Boone Scherer. Andrew Nelson fouled off four pitches with two strikes and eventually brought home Sprong on a sacrifice fly to give Wood River a 4-0 lead.

Burley finally got to Hovey in the fourth, scoring three runs to pull within one, 4-3. But Hovey bounced back, holding the Bobcats scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings to set his team up for the sweep.  Buxton came on to close the game in the seventh.  After striking out the first batter and allowing a base on balls to the next hitter, the Wolverine defense once again extinguished any Burley hopes for victory as the Bobcats lined into a double play to end the game.

These two teams battle again Friday, April 20, in Burley. Next home game for the Wolverines in Thursday, April 26, against the first place Minico Spartans. First pitch is at 4:30pm.



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