Hawks go down swinging

BEACON FALLS — The numbers on the scoreboard really didn’t matter to the Hawks. They were not going down without a fight on Tuesday in the opening round of the Class M state tournament.

The No. 13-seeded Hawks faced an uphill battle as they trailed No. 20 Wolcott by a massive 13-1 count going into their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh.

Much like they have done all season long Woodland pulled up their stir-ups and started swinging. The Hawks put up five runs in their final at bat, but the deficit was too much to overcome as Wolcott, the defending Class M state champion, came away with a 13-6 win.

Woodland (14-8) disposed of Wolcott (13-8) twice during the regular season, including a 4-2 win on May 18 to clinch the Iron Division crown.

“Not being able to beat a team three times in a season is bull,” Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley said. “The fact is we walked the leadoff batter four times in five innings and that’s never a good thing.

“We gave them a couple of extra outs mishandling a few plays in the field. And when we had a chance to get back in the game in that first inning a base running mishap took us out of it.”

“But I’m proud of these kids the way they refused to pack it in during our last at bat,” Kingsley added. “That showed the true heart and character of this team. We didn’t win every game but we were in every game until today. This is a great lesson to take into the offseason and hopefully it will make them come back next year even hungrier.”

After two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, Jarrett Allen and Zack Bedryczuk hit singles to the outfield and Colby Linnell drew a walk to load the bases.

The heart of Woodland kicked in.

The next five batters worked the count full and faced the final pitch of the season, and all five delivered.

Zack Graveline walked to chase home a run. Jason Claiborn got hit with a pitch. Dante DiRubba worked out a walk to force in the third run of the inning after fouling off the third strike three times. Nick DeLucia singled in a run, and Joe Shea walked to make it a 13-6 game with the bases still loaded.

Justin Butterworth roped a shot into short left field, but the Wolcott shortstop, with his back to the plate, reached up and hauled down the would be run-scoring hit to end the game and the season for the Hawks.

A lead-off walk to start the game and a two-run homer from Wolcott’s starting pitcher Jack Drewry set the tone as the Eagles jumped out on top 2-0.

Butterworth dumped a single to center in the Hawks’ half of the first to lead things off. Allen put down a bunt to get the runner in scoring position. A single from Bedryczuk had runners at the corners and Woodland was poised to answer back.

Linnell hit a flair over the second baseman’s head but an over the shoulder catch ended the bid for a hit. Butterworth tried tag from third on the play, but was thrown out and the inning-ending double play took a little air out of the Hawks.

Wolcott’s Ray Bartoli cleared the bases with a grand slam to open up a 7-0 advantage in the second. Back-to-back errors in the third handed the Eagles three more tallies, and by the end of the frame Woodland was staring down the barrel of a 10-0 deficit.

Matt Szturma drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third and came around to score on back-to-back singles followed by a sacrifice fly from Bedryczuk that fell just short of being a grand slam.

A Wolcott run in the sixth and a pair of tallies in the seventh grew the deficit to 13-1 with Woodland coming to bat in the bottom of the seventh.

Woodland proved to be a team that can’t be taken lightly this year and is loaded with young talent that will be a year wiser and a little hungrier next season.

“We lose Jarrett Allen our second baseman, our right fielder Brendan Rowley and one of our pitchers, Matt Hicks,” Kingsley said. “We will return our entire starting pitching staff and that’s a good place to start from.”