WATERBURY — Holy Cross avenged a mid-season loss to Woodland by shellacking the Hawks, 14-7, in Tuesday’s Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinal at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.
The Crusaders uncorked 14 hits—12 of which came in the first four innings—while starter Zach Brown shut down the Woodland offense by allowing one run over five innings, until a late rally by the Hawks.
Woodland managed to strike first, as Jack DeBiase doubled to lead off the game and later scored on a groundout by Kyle Georgia to put the Hawks up, 1-0.
Tom Arsenault hit the mound for the Black and Gold, having defeated the Crusaders, 7-4, April 28 in Waterbury. While Woodland was confident with him toeing the rubber, this stay on the hill was shorter and far less successful the last, as he recorded just one out and allowed four runs to put the Hawks in an early, 4-1 hole.
“The team was very confident,” said Ryan Mariotti, who reached base four times on the afternoon, including a two-run single in the sixth. “Especially with Tom on the mound, we feel like we can win every game he pitches. We were all hungry for an NVL championship game bid.”
Georgia came in to stop the bleeding but had little success, allowing seven more runs over the next three innings to make it 11-1 by the end of the fourth.
Meanwhile, the Hawks’ offense was seemingly nonexistent—just four hits in the first five innings.
“We didn’t play to the intensity they were playing at,” Mariotti said. “Their offense was getting solid base hits, getting on base, and scoring runs while playing good defense. Our offense wasn’t as hot today as it always is, and our defense wasn’t as strong.”
Woodland made three errors to extend several innings. Anthony Pacileo relieved Georgia after 3 1/3 innings and pitched well, allowing his only runs in the sixth inning.
The Hawks mounted rallies in the sixth and seventh, which amounted to too little, too late. Mariotti drove in Mike Diurno and Ryan Genua on a two-out single to right-center to cut into the deficit before Woodland notched four more runs in the seventh.
DeBiase, Mike Hardy and Diurno walked to load the bases with one out, before Genua reached on an error to plate a pair of runs. Lou Enama followed with a two-run double to cut the deficit to 14-7, but Holy Cross brought in ace reliever Ryan Plourde to record the final out, with the bases loaded, to send the Crusaders to Thursday’s league championship.
Now, Woodland looks forward to the Class M state tournament, where the Hawks will likely be the No. 15 seed and host No. 18 Windham Tech Tuesday afternoon.
“We have to get back on track and focus on states with good, quality practices,” Mariotti said. “This is a state championship team when we play at our potential, and we are capable of doing that game in and game out.”