Tuesday, June 11 was a true test for the Woodward-Granger Hawks. In a doubleheader with Panorama (7-4), they experienced their first loss of the season but redeemed themselves with one of their most exhilarating performances to close the night.
After a rally in the fifth inning down 5-3 to go to extra innings, sophomore Worth Henry stepped up to the plate to deliver the most vital hit of the year, bringing in the winning run for his first career walk-off. It may have been his most unlikely performance on a number of counts.
Jay Dorenkamp started the game on the mound but after four runs passed through off a couple of errors, Henry stepped in to pick up his second win of the year. In 7 1/3 innings, he let up just one run to keep the Hawks offense in reach, and as irony would have it, gave him the opportunity to redeem himself at the plate.
In his first seven at-bats on the night including the first game shutout loss — which W-G had just three team hits — Henry went without a hit. With the added pressure of the game on the line, he said he listened to his coach to return to the basics at the plate to win 6-5.
“I just told him to throw your knob at the ball,” Eric Evans said, noticing he was leading with his barrel. “Stuff you do every day at eight o’clock in the morning and BP and he was able to recall past success and what that felt like and made an adjustment.”
Evans added that Henry’s performance to close out the game, preventing W-G from experiencing its first two losses saw him “growing up.” Henry wasn’t the only one to see a growth spurt though. For all the praise on the mound and at the plate, he said junior Jake Lettow has been a key fixture at catcher.
“He’s grown up too,” Evans said. “He’s handling a pretty good staff. He’s with me when we cal games. He understands how to sequence guys down the road. Yeah, 15 innings out of that kid back there today after seven yesterday was good for him.”
Evans also praised Lettow’s overall athleticism, noting his work as the W-G running back and a wrestler has made him mentally and physically tough.
The first game with the Chargers didn’t have that savior appear, struggling to get the bats moving against one of the best pitchers they’ve seen this year. With junior Alex Bice dueling from the mound for the Hawks, it came down to a single error from the shortstop in the 1-0 loss. That ended the win streak at 11 games. Woodward now stands at 12-1.
Despite the loss, the Hawks are moving on as if nothing happened, unafraid of not matching the 2017 season’s record. Evans said that staying undefeated only matters from an outside perspective and that no one on the team has been talking about the streak.
“A lot of these guys were a part of it a couple years ago and realized it didn’t matter (staying undefeated),” Evans added. “You just got to win the last one, right?”
The Hawks will have their hands full Thursday with a trip to Van Meter in a doubleheader on the road starting at 5 p.m.