The Wildcats were able to pick up that much-needed victory Monday night and did so convincingly in six innings, 11-1, at home against New Manchester.
“We’re searching for Ws right now. That’s the big thing, to pick up the win,” Woodland head coach Corey Gochee said.
After facing undefeated Allatoona in Woodland’s last game, the Wildcats played the right team to get its confidence back in New Manchester, who was 0-9 in region play heading into Monday’s game.
“They’re still young, still a new school, so they’re not one of the better teams in the region. But it’s baseball—if you don’t come to play, you’re going to get beat,” Gochee said.
Woodland’s hitters were able to boost their confidence as the team recorded 13 hits in the game. Hayden Siniard and Mason Robinson each had three of those hits.
“That’s the key, is swinging the bats and being aggressive,” Gochee said, “especially with Mason, to get his confidence back where it needs to be. We expected him to be a catalyst for us and one of our guys, but he’s been struggling a little bit. He’s starting to find it the last three or four games and today was another good game at the plate, so that is the key.”
The Wildcats pounced on New Manchester in the first inning when Justin Allen led off with a base hit. Jarrett Kilgo then doubled into the gap in right field to put runners on first and third base with no outs. Sacrifice flies by Hunter Siniard and Cauy Williams brought Allen and Kilgo home to give Woodland a two-run lead.
Kilgo was back at it in the third inning when he lined a two-strike pitch down the left field line for a double. Hunter Siniard then drove him in with a triple and then scored on another sacrifice fly by Williams.
Woodland would add insurance runs in the fifth inning when Robinson hit a two-run home run over the left field wall.
The six run lead was more than enough run support for starting pitcher Cody Crump, who pitched all six innings and allowed just one run. Crump walked just one batter and was able to induce 12 groundball outs.
“I thought, pitching-wise, [Crump] threw strikes, and that’s what we have to do,” Gochee said. “The last time out, he struggled a little bit and left the ball up, so it’s good to see him locate down in the zone and get groundball after groundball after groundball.”
Woodland’s infield was able to handle all the groundballs and did not make an error in the game. The defense was especially impressive in the sixth inning when shortstop Braden Harris made a backhand stab in the hole and threw out the runner for the second out of the inning. Williams then saved a run for the final out of the inning when he made a nice scoop of a throw at first base.
“Defensively, we made the plays, and that’s the kind of team we have to be,” Gochee said.
Woodland would then end the game on the mercy rule with a five-run sixth inning. Houston Stewart led off with a single and Allen moved him along with a perfectly placed bunt that resulted in a base hit. After two walks, Williams brought a run home with a bases-loaded single. Hayden Siniard did the same before Robinson lined a single up the middle to bring in two runs on the last play of the game.
Woodland was able to capitalize on slow pitching, especially during the third time through the order when the batters had a chance to adjust.
“I thought we had a lot better approach at the plate, especially late in the game when we were just trying to put the ball in play, not trying to over-hit everything, just trying to play situational baseball,” Gochee said. “Early in the game, you could see guys just jumping out at the ball and not sitting back. Later on, we did a better job of staying back and letting the ball travel.”
Robinson finished with four RBIs in the game while Williams and Hunter Siniard each drove in three. Kilgo doubled twice, scored two runs and recorded a walk. Allen also had two hits and scored a run after each.
Woodland now moves to 6-9 on the season, 3-7 in Region 5-AAAAA. The Wildcats play their second of four games this week today when they take on New Trier from Illinois at home in a non-region game.