By Sarah Snare
LoCoSports Copy Editor
Purcellville (April 6, 2017) — Woodgrove High School used a fifth-inning rally to swing the momentum in their favor as the Wolverines held on to defeat Stone Bridge High School, 5-4, on April 5 in Purcellville.
“We played very well. Struggled early to hit, but late in the game we got hits when we needed them and our pitchers did what we needed them to do and got guys out,” Woodgrove head coach Rusty Smith said.
As Smith said, the Wolverines had a slow start, not stepping foot on the base until the bottom of the second inning, when senior catcher Tommy Wozny secured a single. Ben Piliere followed his teammate up with a walk to first, allowing Wozny to advance to second. Neither of them were able to score however, as Bulldog junior outfielder Shane Gallahan caught a flyball to end the inning, sending the Wolverines back on defense.
The Bulldogs fared only slightly better in the next half inning when senior outfielder Jonathan Hough got Stone Bridge’s first base hit of the night. Following a walk to junior catcher Shane Lashlee, Hough, Gallahan and Lashlee stole some promising bases, but they were not able to get an early run on the board.
Woodgrove junior starter Nathan Wright saw his team’s energy as one of the biggest strengths of the Wolverines.
Wright and his teammates proved that claim when he hit a single early in the bottom of the third inning. As a courtesy runner for Wright, junior outfielder Sam Upton scored the first run of the game for the Wolverines on a double hit by junior shortstop Justin Hanvey.
Wright was able to keep Stone Bridge off the bases for the most part through the first four innings. However, the pace of the game changed dramatically when the Bulldogs’ determination fired up early in the fifth inning.
Lashlee hit a single, as junior outfielder Trevor McNicholas entered as a courtesy runner. Senior second baseman Andrew Moore walked to first as McNicholas moved to second. A passed ball allowed Moore and McNicholas to advance to second and third, respectively. Bulldog senior first baseman Casey Johnson followed up with a single, driving in McNicholas.
The Wolverines responded by bringing Hanvey — a Radford-commit — to the mount. The Bulldogs continued to fight, however, as sophomore outfielder Paul Moore hit another single to score both Moore and Johnson, bringing the score to 3-1 in Stone Bridge’s favor.
Woodgrove was not about to let Stone Bridge get out of the fifth inning with the lead, though. With two walks and a single, the Wolverines quickly loaded up the bases. Junior infielder Ryan Badillo sat on third, senior infielder Ben Griffin on second and senior outfielder Clayton Roberts on first as senior first baseman Clark Hile stepped up to bat. Hile’s bat sent the ball flying, allowing both Badillo and Griffin to score as he slid into second.
Upton subbed in for Hile as Wozny got ready to swing again. Wozny hit a single,driving in both Roberts and Upto, with a celebratory chest bump as they crossed home plate.
“In the fifth inning, I was able to hit the two-run single that put us up..,” Wozny said. “I did alright, just trying to get the job done.”
George Mason-commit and Woodgrove senior Ryan Miles earned the sixth-inning hold for the Wolverines, and sophomore Nick Lockhart earned the save in the seventh.
Although they came out with a loss, Stone Bridge head coach Andrew Baird was proud of his boys’ performance.
“I thought we played well. Woodgrove’s a really good team. We’ve just got to bring consistency to our game,” Baird said. “My guys are playing hard and I love the way they’re playing the game, and they’re learning. We have an opportunity to learn every single game. When we make a mistake, we don’t make it a second time.”
Overall, Woodgrove’s Smith was happy with how his boys played, but he has specific goals in mind to help them improve moving forward.
“We really got to improve on hitting with two outs and scoring more runs with two outs,” Smith explained. “If we can do that, then we can win a lot of games.”
Woodgrove next takes on the Warriors of Sherando High School in a conference match-up at home on April 7. The Bulldogs will battle Ashley High School in Wilmington, North Carolina during their spring break tournament on April 10.