Hawks secure spot in NVLs

BEACON FALLS — The final week of the regular season has turned into a race to the finish line for several baseball teams in the NVL. The weather created a logjam of games this week and teams are jockeying for position in the upcoming NVL tournament.

Woodland is in the tournament for the first time since 2010 by virtue of a 13-0 win over Torrington on Monday and an 11-6 NVL record.

Zack Bedryczuk pitched six innings against Torrington and struck out five. He added a single double and two RBI at the plate. Justin Butterworth tacked on three RBI with a single and double.

The Hawks improved to 12-6 overall with an out-of-league win over Goodwin Tech, 4-1, on Tuesday.

Zack Graveline had a double, single and two RBI to pace the Hawks’ offense.

Woodland will end the regular season, and a stretch of four games in four days, against East Granby on Wednesday and Wolcott on Thursday.

The regular season finale versus Wolcott is shaping up to be a battle for the Iron Division crown. A Wolcott win over Watertown on Wednesday means the teams will square off for the Iron Division title.

“It’s going to be some tough sledding this week,” said Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley as the team entered the final week of the regular season. “It could very well come down to winning the division. That’s why we are putting an emphasis on the final two NVL games as they are both against division opponents.

“Not that we are not looking to win our other two games, but we will need to spread the pitching around and make sure we have our top guys ready for the NVL quarterfinals on Saturday. Mike Hicks will definitely get one of the starts. Joe Shea and Dante DiRubba will also see time on the mound. Mike Szturma has given us some quality innings and Justin Butterworth has been closing games out for us.”

Woodland went 5-3 over the last eight games. All three losses were decided by one run.

The pitching has been there, the bats are putting the ball in play, and for the first time in a long time the Hawks will play some meaningful games heading into the state tournament.

“We are putting the ball in play and have cut down on our strikeouts concentrating on making solid contact,” Kingsley said. “Mike Szturma has given us some big hits and lately Jarrett Allen has been swinging a good bat.”

The Hawks recently got Matt Szturma back in the lineup from an injury, but he won’t be ready to pitch until the state tournament. That has moved Bedryczuk to number one on the hill with Graveline as the number two.

Catcher Colby Linnell has been a productive hitter at the top of the lineup with Butterworth leading things off. Bedryczuk is leading the team with a .360 clip and Graveline is also hitting over .300.

“In a week like this with so many games to get through it all comes down to the depth of your pitching staff,” Kingsley said. “We have the depth, we just need to make sure we have our top guys ready to go come Saturday.”

The NVL tournament is set to start Saturday with quarterfinal games at the higher seeds. Municipal Stadium in Waterbury will host the semifinals May 22 and the final May 24.