Heating up: WRHS baseball has won 8 of 10

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BEACON FALLS — The Woodland baseball team remained one of the hottest squads in the Naugatuck Valley League last week, winning two of three to improve to 8-5 on the season. The Hawks have won a league-best eight of their last 10 games.

Perhaps the biggest win so far this season came last Wednesday in Waterbury, where the Black and Gold took down Holy Cross, which was previously undefeated in NVL play. Led by a strong effort on the mound by junior Tom Arsenault and clutch offensive performances throughout the lineup, Woodland handed the Crusaders a 7-4 loss.

“It was one of the biggest wins I’ve been a part of, personally,” senior Kyle Georgia said. “As a team, we’re extremely excited. It gave us so much confidence for the rest of the season.”

Arsenault pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Hawks and overcame questionable ball-strike calls to hold the Saders to their lowest run output in an NVL contest this season.

Woodland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, after juniors Jack DeBiase and Mike Hardy reached to start the game and were driven in by Georgia and senior Mike Diurno, respectively. After the Crusaders knotted the score, 2-2, in the bottom half, the Hawks nosed back ahead in the second, on an RBI groundout by Hardy to score Anthony Pacileo.

Holy Cross tied the score again in the fifth, but the Black and Gold responded quickly by pulling back ahead, on Ryan Mariotti’s squeeze bunt, which plated pinch runner Sean Deegan. But the Crusaders would not sit by idly, tying the game once more, 4-4, heading into the seventh.

Arsenault worked out of several jams—mostly products of his 10 walks and three hit batsmen—throughout the afternoon.

The Hawks tallied three runs in the top of the seventh, the first coming as Connor Chura scored via a throwing error on a potential inning-ending double play ball hit by Hardy. Georgia drove in Hardy, with a double, and Diurno knocked home Georgia on a ground ball through the left side.

Arsenault started the seventh but loaded the bases with one out. Brian Langdon, quietly becoming the Hawks’ go-to relief pitcher, came in and retired the final two batters of the game—one on a called strikeout and the other on a ground out—to seal what was then Woodland’s seventh win in eight games.

“We realize now that we can beat anybody in the league,” Georgia said. “We just have to keep the intensity up, and we’ll be tough to beat.”

Last Friday’s easy, 13-7 win over Kennedy was never as close as the score indicated. At one point, the Hawks led by double digits, as Langdon turned in a strong performance in his first start of the season. Georgia and Diurno both notched a pair of hits, runs and three RBIs, while Mariotti added a single, triple, two runs and an RBI, and senior Ben Kozera contributed a pair of hits, an RBI and a run.

The hot streak came to an end Tuesday against Ansonia, as errors and poor offensive production cost the Hawks a 5-2 defeat, their second loss to the Chargers this season. Georgia pitched well, allowing just two earned runs, but only Georgia, Hardy and Kozera tallied hits. The loss dropped the Hawks to 3-4 in the Brass Division.

“Both games [against Ansonia] we didn’t play our game,” Georgia said. “We didn’t really hit in either game. We had to score a little more than three combined runs. We have to make the simple plays. We have to think before the ball’s hit and know where to go with the ball. But we definitely still have a shot [at the division]. We just have to pick it up and take it one game at a time.”