Hawks to carry late-season momentum into next year

Woodland’s Billy Alfiere was part of a four-man rotation that earned a collective 2.63 ERA on the year. The Hawks rebounded from a slow start this season, but missed the postseason by one win. The Hawks will look to carry that momentum into next season. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland baseball team’s second-half charge fell just short of a state tournament berth.

The Hawks needed to win two of their final three games to reach the postseason. They blew out Crosby for the first, but couldn’t overcome Wolcott or Ansonia for the last necessary victory, finishing 7-13 on the year.

A 17-0 win over Crosby last Thursday was highlighted by 16 total hits, including a four-hit, four-RBI performance by Anthony Scirpo and multiple-hit efforts by Dave Uhl, Billy Alfiere, Nick Brown, Anthony Ross, and Kevin Cotto.

Seniors Brian Langdon and Connor Chura combined to shut out the Bulldogs and allow only three hits in the process.

But Woodland allowed 20 total runs in the final two games against Naugatuck Valley League tournament qualifiers Wolcott and Ansonia. In each game’s first inning, the Hawks allowed five runs and never fully rallied in either.

Woodland was shut down by the Eagles’ Manny Cruz last Friday, tallying just four hits in a 10-1 loss. On Saturday, the Hawks got as close as 7-6 but Ansonia’s 12 hits kept the Chargers ahead for a 10-8 win.

The Hawks reached the brink of the state tournament after a 1-9 start to the season. They finished 6-4 in the last 10 games.

“The team showed what kind of commitment they have to the program,” coach Mike Kingsley said of the second-half rally. “After the start we had, they could have folded their tents and packed it in for the rest of the season, but they worked hard to finish and it’s going to pay off for them moving forward.”

Six Hawks finished the season with averages above .290. After earning a full-time spot in the lineup about midway through the season, Alfiere posted a .419 average, a .469 on-base percentage, and the team’s only home run.

Scirpo led the team with 26 hits in racking up a .371 mark. He scored a team-high 23 runs while knocking in 17 and reaching base with a .463 percentage.

Steve Baeder enjoyed a strong second half, finishing with a .342 average, 25 hits, and a team-high 19 RBI.

Uhl also finished above .300 with a .302 average, while Brown hit .298 and Tanner Kingsley batted .293.

Pitching was a strong point for the team all season, as the four-pitcher staff earned a collective 2.63 ERA. Kingsley (3-2, 2.24 ERA), Langdon (2-6, 2.90 ERA), and Alfiere (2-5, 2.93 ERA) kept Woodland in nearly every game, while Chura posted a 1.87 ERA in 15 innings out of the bullpen.

Defense hampered the team in many of its losses, having averaged about three errors per game. More than half of the 108 runs Woodland allowed this season were unearned.

Still, most of the Hawks’ defense was made up of new players or players at new positions, and Mike Kingsley expects this year to serve as a learning experience to prepare for next season.

“Playing time is the best experience,” Kingsley said. “You learn the most being on the field from day to day. With seven returning starters, we should be very much ahead of where we were this year. Once again, pitching and defense will be the key. We’ll hit the ball with everyone like we did this year, but we have to make a commitment to defense.”