In the eyes of Woodland interim baseball coach Matt Montgomery, junior Dallas Adams epitomizes what it means to be a team player. That's one of the reasons Montgomery didn't mind Adams making his coach look foolish Wednesday.
Then again, Adams also made his coach look pretty smart, too. After losing one of his regular starters to injury, Montgomery decided to give Adams his first start in a home game against Hiram.
Needless to say, Adams took advantage of the opportunity, finishing 2-for-2 with a walk and four RBIs in leading the Wildcats to a 9-4 Region 7-AAAAA victory. He doubled home a run in the second inning, roped a three-run single in the third and coaxed a walk in the fifth.
"He's one of the kids who is always here working," Montgomery said of Adams. "He earned every bit of that. ... He's one of the hardest workers we have. He's picking up trash in the dugout. He's one of those types of kids who will do whatever needs to be done without looking for a pat on the back. It's great when you have a guy like that who kind of makes me look dumb for not having him in the lineup."
Adams' early two-bagger to score Peyton Posey helped Woodland (4-7, 2-3) cancel out Hiram's tally in the top of the second. After a Marco Haro RBI groundout and Posey reaching on a wide throw to first to allow a run to score, Adams broke the game open with his key two-out rip to left-center.
"We've talked about that a lot, not leaving runners on," Montgomery said of his team's offensive breakout. "... You're not going to win a lot of baseball games doing that. Tonight, we got a lot of key hits in those situations. That was the difference.
"It doesn't have to be a home run, doesn't have to be killed. Sometimes just a groundball getting through breaks it open. We had to try to get over that hump of getting the hit when we needed it."
Haro brought home another run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly before Koby Stansel knocked in a run on a double for an 8-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Taylor Elrod picked up an RBI with a single to score Posey in the fifth.
With the sizable lead, Woodland utilized its bench, allowing some less experienced players time on the mound, in the field and at the plate.
"They need to get reps when they can," Montgomery said. "It's great to see those guys get in and get some meaningful reps. ... You're one play away from being an everyday guy. We've got a couple right there on the bubble of breaking into the lineup."
Stansel picked up the win on the mound, throwing five innings of one-run ball. He struck out two while allowing five hits and three walks. All of the free passes came in the fifth inning, but Stansel managed to pick a runner off at first to help escape trouble.
"He's not going to give in to hitters," Montgomery said of Stansel. "If he's not getting those borderline calls, he's going to keep throwing the ball there. That's what you want out of your pitchers. If you keep hitting the same spot, eventually we hope to start getting those borderline calls."
Zach Wilson pitched himself into bases-loaded situations in each of the sixth and seventh innings. He managed to wiggle out of the jam the first time around, but Montgomery called upon Scotty Smith to clean up the second mess, which he did to close out the game.
Just like Adams, Posey finished 2-for-2. He was also hit by a pitch and scored three times. Leadoff hitter Bailey Ward actually led the Wildcats with three hits in four at-bats, while Haro had two RBIs, despite not recording a hit.
Woodland will turn right around to face Hiram (0-9, 0-5) on the road today, as Friday's game was moved up 24 hours in an attempt to beat expected storms. Whether the game gets played today or not, there's a good chance Adams will find himself in the lineup for the Wildcats' next contest.