They battled from behind, rallied for a lead, and even tied a game with a two-strike suicide squeeze bunt in the seventh. But none of it was enough for the Hawks in the Naugatuck Valley League baseball semifinals last week.
Third-seeded Woodland suffered a 10-9 defeat against second-seeded and two-time defending champion Holy Cross on May 22 at Municipal Stadium in a wild game that had a new twist or turn every half-inning.
The Hawks (17-5) spotted the Crusaders a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning, but Woodland rallied to take a 7-5 lead in the fifth on Justin Butterworth’s two-run, two-out triple to right.
With a chance to take a bigger lead on a fly ball that Holy Cross left fielder Zach Lerner lost in the sun, Woodland’s Justin Marks was gunned down at the plate to keep it a two-run lead.
Cross regained the lead and held a 9-8 edge in the seventh when Nick DeLucia bunted foul on a suicide squeeze attempt with one strike. He squared again on the next pitch, this time planting a bunt into the grass in front of home plate and allowing pinch runner David Kiernan to score and tie the game.
In the eighth, though, Lerner singled to left to score Corey Fappiano with the game-winning run. Zach Bedryzcuk was strong in relief of starter Nick DeLucia, Dante DiRubba and Mike Szturma.
Woodland earned the No. 5 seed in the Class M playoffs, matching the program’s best-ever seed in the state tournament. The Hawks are set to host No. 28 Wolcott Tech in the first round Tuesday with a home second-round game against Plainville or Lewis Mills on Wednesday. The quarterfinals are set for Saturday, with semifinals Tuesday and finals next weekend.
In other NVL baseball tournament action, No. 5-seeded Naugatuck suffered a 6-4 loss to No. 4 St. Paul in the quarterfinals May 21.
The Greyhounds (13-8) earned the No. 15 seed in the Class LL tournament and are set to host No. 18 Brien McMahon on Tuesday. They would likely visit No. 2 Newtown in the second-round on Wednesday with a first-round victory.
SOFTBALL: Woodland had every chance to beat longtime nemesis Seymour this season — never closer than an excruciating, 4-3 loss to the Wildcats in the NVL softball quarterfinals May 21.
Without freshman All-NVL catcher Kylie Bulinski, who missed several weeks with a knee injury, Woodland carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning on the strength of Riley Kane’s pitching and Cassidy Doiron’s three RBI.
But in the bottom of the seventh, a pair of hits to the outfield and throws to the wrong bases forced the Hawks to issue a pair of intentional walks to Seymour batters. Still clinging to a 3-2 lead with one out, the Wildcats’ Victoria Sampiere drilled a two-run single to center to help Seymour advance with a walk-off victory.
The ‘Cats eventually lost to Oxford in the league championship game.
Woodland (14-7) earned the No. 16 seed in the Class M tournament and is set to host No. 17 Jonathan Law in the first round Tuesday. A victory would send the Hawks to the second round at No. 1 Valley Regional on Wednesday with quarterfinals set for Friday.
In other NVL softball tournament action, No. 5 Naugatuck fell to No. 4 St. Paul, 9-3, in the quarterfinals.
The Greyhounds (12-9) earned the No. 12 seed in the Class L tournament and were set to host No. 21 Lyman Hall in the first round Tuesday. A win would likely send them to No. 5 Windsor for the second round Wednesday.