D’Agnone on target as Woodland qualifies for postseason
ANSONIA — The Woodland baseball team qualified for the Class M state tournament Monday night at Nolan Field in Ansonia as Anthony D’Agnone tamed the Chargers by spinning a five-hitter in a 3-1 win.
It was the third victory in four games for the Hawks. Ansonia threatened throughout the game but the Woodland defense made the plays to keep the Chargers from rallying.
“What propelled us tonight was the way Anthony pitched,” Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley said. “He was around the plate throughout the game. He kept the ball in play and didn’t hurt himself with a lot of walks. The defense was there to back him up but Anthony really set the tone.”
Woodland got all the runs it needed in a very opportunistic first inning. Sean Bonaparte, who struck out 15 batters in his last start against Seymour, got the first two outs and had an 0-2 count on Tanner Kingsley.
That’s when things unraveled for Ansonia. Kingsley worked a walk and Bonaparte lost the strike zone, walking Matt Butterworth and Chris Slavin to load the bases. Jared Grillo jumped at the opportunity and drilled a two-run single to right field to give the Hawks a 2-0 advantage.
The Chargers battled back in the bottom of the frame as an error, a fielder’s choice, a single and a hit batter loaded the bases. Matt Pitney hit a sacrifice fly to right field as Mike Kenney fired the throw to catcher Mike Gondola.
The runner at second strayed a little too far and Gondola quickly unloaded a throw to shortstop Sam Merriman for an inning-ending double play. That defensive play took a little steam out of the Chargers and they never recovered.
“I came out here just looking to pound the strike zone,” D’Agnone said. “I have a lot of confidence in the defense behind me and they really came though with some big plays.”
The Hawks added an insurance run in the third after Butterworth led off getting hit by a pitch. A two-base error on a pickoff attempt sent Butterworth to third, and Tanner Kingsley lashed out a run-scoring single into the left field corner.
Jaden Tinney collected his second hit on a bunt single in the bottom of the third to give Ansonia something going. That was short-lived as Dylan Cummings in left and Kingsley in center tracked down shots in the gaps to end the threat.
The Woodland defense continued to support D’Agnone with Butterworth making a few stellar stops at second base and third baseman Tyler Boisvert firing all the way across the diamond to take away a few potential hits by the Chargers.
“We have relatively a young team out there with only two seniors in the lineup tonight,” Mike Kingsley said. “We are building a solid core that will only get better over the next few years.”
Woodland improved to 9-7 on the season with a 9-0 victory over Watertown Wednesday. Everett Miner allowed two hits and two walks with six strikeouts for the Hawks. Gondola had two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored to help fuel the offense.
The Hawks will visit Seymour on Friday to end the week. They will play three consecutive games to start next week and end the regular season: Monday against Derby, Tuesday at St. Paul and Wednesday at Goodwin Tech.