That strategy worked Friday against Villa Rica as Woodland’s aggressive baserunning helped cause four Villa Rica errors, leading to a 3-1 victory for the Wildcats at Woodland High.
“I told these guys, second inning we got thrown out [trying to steal second], third inning we got thrown out. At this level, I feel like they still have to execute, make throws, everything’s got to be on,” Gochee said of why he wants his team to be aggressive on the basepaths. “I think this is what kind of team we’re going to be. We’re going to be small ball, manufacturing runs and get good pitching and defense. And that spelled success for us tonight.”
The good pitching came from Roldopho Romo, who threw six innings, allowed one hit, one walk and one unearned run. Romo got the win and Seth Gunter pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to earn the save.
Romo only had two strikeouts but was able to induce ground balls and rely on a strong defense.
“Romo is a guy that throws a lot of strikes all the time when he’s out there. As long as he keeps the ball down, which he did very effectively tonight, he tends to be very effective,” Gochee said. “Our defense knows when he’s on the mound they’re going to get ground balls. They are going to get chances. Other than one error, we did a great job defensively. Guys are going to put balls in play and we’re going to make plays defensively.”
Despite Romo’s work on the mound, Woodland fell behind in the third inning when a double with two outs scored Brandon Miller, who reached base on an error.
However, Woodland would take the lead in the fourth inning when a single by Hunter Siniard put a runner on base to lead off the inning. Cauy Williams then hit a ground ball to the Villa Rica third baseman, who bobbled the ball and was unable to make a play at first base. He then threw behind Siniard at second base to try to make him pay for rounding the base. The throw got away from the second baseman, allowing Siniard to go to third with no outs. Siniard would score on the next play.
The Wildcats would score another run later in the inning when Hayden Siniard doubled over the left fielder’s head to score Grant Robinson, who singled with two outs.
“We are going to try to run a lot. I feel like tonight there were some better at bats as far as our process of being a better team at the plate,” Gochee said. “We still have a little ways to go as far as men on second and third with less than two outs because we struggle right there at times. We had a man on third with one out, didn’t execute, and we had a man on second with no outs and didn’t execute. So in those situations, we have to execute and manufacture and go station to station. We’re getting hits, but when we get into scoring position, we have to do a better job of plating those runs.”
Woodland was able to plate a run in the fifth inning thanks, once again, to Villa Rica fielding miscues.
With runners on first and third base, Gochee sent Hunter Siniard to second base to try and draw a throw from the catcher. Instead, the catcher threw to the shortstop to try and get Jarrett Kilgo at third base. The shortstop then threw to the third baseman and the throw got away. Kilgo was able to come home on the play to give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
The run was an example of aggressive baserunning by Woodland, forcing Villa Rica to commit the errors, ultimately resulting in three unearned runs for Woodland.
Villa Rica was then unable to mount a comeback as the combination of Romo and Gunter did not allow a base runner in the last four innings of the game.
Brothers Hunter and Hayden Siniard led the charge for the Wildcats as each had two hits in the game.
Hunter hit two singles and scored a run, while Hayden had an RBI double and a single.
Woodland is now 5-4 on the season and 2-2 in Region 5-AAAAA. The team’s next game is Monday at South Paulding.