BEACON FALLS — There is really not a whole lot a coach can tell his players when they are staring at a 3-9 record, especially with a young team that hasn’t quite figured out how to turn it around yet.
Somewhere over the course of the past few weeks, Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley found the right words to inspire his young Hawks into making a run over the second half of the season.
On Tuesday, Woodland punched its ticket to the postseason with a 12-4 win over Torrington to improve to 8-11. The win came at the perfect time as Woodland was celebrating senior night.
Seniors Mike Tuohy, Matt Butterworth, Tyler Boisvert and Jared Grillo were treated to an extension of their final season at Woodland by a band of young players that staged a run that put five games in the win column in the last seven contests.
“They could have easily packed it in,” Kingsley said. “But it just goes to show you the kind of heart this team has. They certainly had to grow up in a hurry this season and that has built character on this team.”
Woodland faced adversity right off the bat when in the first preseason scrimmage they lost their starting catcher and senior tri-captain Mike Tuohy to a season-ending injury.
Freshman Colby Linnell came in to fill the gap and was doing a great job until he got hit with a pitch and he was lost for seven games. Junior Jarrett Allen came forward to take on the role after not catching since Little League.
Sophomore Zak Graveline was starting to become a productive bat in the lineup when he was lost to a season-ending injury.
Woodland made errors, lost games and struck out in timely situations, but the one thing they didn’t do was quit.
The turnaround began with the first game in May when the Hawks beat Crosby, 20-0. With a pitching staff consisting of freshman Zack Bedryczuk, sophomores Matt Szturma and Brett Petruny and anchored by senior Boisvert, Woodland won four games in a row.
The streak came to an end in a 9-2 loss to Watertown on May 11. Grillo had a RBI single and freshman Justin Marks added a double and a single to account for the Hawks’ offense.
On Saturday, Woodland dropped a 3-1 heartbreaker to Wolcott. Boisvert scattered seven hits striking out four with Justin Butterworth leading the offense with two hits.
Running out of chances the Hawks took clung to a 3-2 lead Tuesday against Torrington before erupting for six runs in the bottom of the third to put the game away.
Allen delivered a two-run single, Linnell added a run-scoring hit, Bedryczuk sent a run home on a sacrifice fly, and Matt Butterworth and Petruny drew bases-loaded walks in the inning.
Szturma went five innings on the hill allowing just two hits, four runs, one earned and struck out five. Bedryczuk threw two innings of shutout relief.
Woodland finished the regular season with a 3-2 win over Coginchaug on Wednesday. Boisvert pitched seven innings and had six strikeouts. Grillo had a hand in every run scored for Woodland with two RBI and a run scored.
The state tournament begins May 28 with teams and dates to be determined.