BEACON FALLS — The season was 12 games deep last year before the Hawks started to show some resolve on the diamond. They’ve wasted no time this year.
The Hawks came out of the gate swinging with wins over Ansonia and Wilby. On Monday, the Hawks fell short in a 6-3 loss to St. Paul with Zack Graveline, Mike Szturma and Justin Butterworth tossing innings on the hill for Woodland.
Zack Bedryczuk belted three hits and drove in two runs to spark the Hawks’ offense. Butterworth added a hit and two runs scored.
The Hawks started the season with a solid pitching performance from Graveline. He tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over Ansonia on April 3. Jason Claiborn scored the game’s only run on a single from Butterworth with the bases loaded.
“I basically worked real hard in the offseason to get back here,” said Graveline, who was injured for the better part of last season. “I just wanted to get back here and help my team continue winning the way they had in the second part of the year. I have a great defense behind me and I was just trying to focus on throwing strikes.”
Due to the weather the Hawks didn’t get on their home field until Saturday against Wilby. Playing on their home field for the first time this year, the Hawks plated six runs in the first inning.
That instant offense along with the pitching of Matt Szturma guided Woodland to a 7-3 win over the Wildcats. Bedryczuk came in to close out the game by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
“Putting up six in the first was huge,” Matt Szturma said. “It helped me to relax and just go out there and do my job. Anytime you have the lead you throw with confidence and just throw strikes.”
Colby Linnel delivered a big two-run hit in the first to score Graveline and Bedryczuk. Jarrett Allen reached on an error, and Joe Shea came through with a run-scoring single.
Matt Szturma busted a run-scoring double, and Claiborn followed with a run-scoring triple for all the damage. Szturma went on to strikeout the next seven Wilby batters and allowed three hits through six innings with 12 strikeouts.
“It’s really unbelievable the way Zack and Matt have come out to start the season,” Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley said. “They have come out and thrown strikes and kept their pitch counts down.
“We were really excited to get Zack back in the lineup. He was a big part of our young team last year until he got hurt. He has just picked up where he left off. It’s important for our confidence to come out here with a fast start with such a young team.”
Kingsley added, “We even had our freshman Claiborn hit a triple to the wall. We have five sophomores on the field. So to start out strong like this is huge.”
The Hawks earned a 7-5 win over Watertown on Wednesday.
Linnel had two hits and three RBI to pace the offense.
Bedryczuk struck out four batters and allowed seven hits in 4 1/3 innings on the mound. He added a single and two RBI at the plate. Justin Butterworth pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief.
Woodland improved to 4-1 on the year with a 7-3 victory against Wolcott on Thursday.
Matt Szturma pitched a complete game, and Graveline had a two-run home run for the Hawks.
The Hawks will host Torrington on April 17 to start a five-day stretch with four games.
This story has been updated from the version that appears in the April 14 print edition of the Citizen’s News to include results from games played through April 13.