Hawks keep state tournament streak alive

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Woodland’s Billy Alfiere struck out six in six innings of work Monday versus Derby. The Hawks defeated the Red Raiders 5-4 to earn their eighth win on the year and a state tournament birth for the eighth year in a row. LARAINE WESCHLER
BEACON FALLS — The streak lives on.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Woodland baseball team will take part in the state tournament after gaining its eighth win on Monday with a 5-4 victory over Derby.

The Hawks (8-11) held off a seventh-inning rally by the Red Raiders (12-6) to preserve the win, which also kept alive Woodland’s hopes for a Naugatuck Valley League tournament berth.

With his team leading, 5-1, heading into the last inning, Woodland starter Billy Alfiere loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of hits and a walk.

Brian Langdon then allowed a two-run double to Colin Haydu and an RBI single to Zach Volo. But on Volo’s single, pinch runner Eric Ferguson was thrown out retreating to third base, taking the tying run off the hot corner and leaving Derby with a runner on first and one out.

Langdon induced a fly out by Brian Dobek and struck out Sal Frosceno to end the game.

Woodland’s game-winning run turned out to be the insurance run head coach Mike Kingsley decided to play for in the bottom of the sixth.

Nick Brown led off with his second infield single of the day. Jake Pinho pinch ran for Brown and stole second before moving to third on Mike Hardy’s second sacrifice bunt of the game. Ryan McKay delivered the run with a sacrifice fly to left to make it 5-1.

“Derby is an explosive baseball team and I wanted to get an insurance run,” Kingsley said. “We were in the right place in our order to get that run. We got a guy on base, bunted him over, and got a sac fly. It was good fundamental baseball that we haven’t been playing too much.”

The big blow for the Hawks came in the bottom of the fourth with the game tied, 1-1. Sean Deegan, who had been mired in a slump, blasted a 1-0 fastball over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, scoring Dave Uhl and McKay to give Woodland a 4-1 lead.

The home run came right after the Raiders tied the game in the top of the fourth on four straight singles, the last being an RBI infield single by Justin Olenoski.

Woodland took a 1-0 lead in the third on a sac fly by Jack DeBiase, which scored Anthony Scirpo, who earlier walked with one out in the inning.

Derby out-hit Woodland, 10-5, but the Red Raiders stranded nine base runners Alfiere’s six innings of work. Alfiere struck out six before Langdon came on for the save.

All five of Woodland’s hits came from the five through eight hitters in the lineup, as Brown led the team with two hits while Hardy, McKay, and Deegan all had one.

The Hawks were scheduled to host Seymour on Wednesday in their final regular-season game. Woodland will not know if it will qualify for the NVL tournament until at least Friday night, depending on weather.

But Kingsley said his team is peaking at the right time and could be a tough tournament team.

“The playoffs for us started a week ago,” Kingsley said. “I think we’re playing better than we have all year. The pitching has stepped up.”