After a storm delay kept the teams off the field Tuesday for the substate quarterfinals, Woodward-Granger (18-4-1) returned the next day to Hawk Field to serve ACGC (6-14) an 11-1 loss.
Practice made perfect
The first two times the Hawks faced ACGC, the score certainly struggled to reflect Woodward's status as the No. 5 ranked team in the class. W-G barely won on a 3-2 walk-off to open the season, and it took five innings to break a tie game before an 8-3 win in the next meeting.
This time around, there were no close calls. The Hawks got straight to work with four runs to start the game and never looked back.
“We scored four in the first inning and we didn't press our at-bats,” Hawks head coach Eric Evans said.
Loading the bases
That quick start was made possible by getting the bases loaded within the first six batters. All three runners eventually found home plate and dug a 4-0 hole that ACGC couldn't climb out of.
The first inning wasn't the only time Woodward had the luxury of loaded bases. With the Hawks totaling eight hits and drawing seven walks, they'd load the bases three more times through the night, and once even landed a run after Reese Jamison was walked.
“After the fourth inning, I just told them we want one run an inning,” Evans said. “I just want them to be working on something, and Reese came up and moved a guy in and sac'd him in, and I'm like, 'That's baseball.' If our best hitter can give himself up and hit a ground ball to the right side and get him over, I think everybody's pretty much in-tune. Everybody gets it.”
With that bounty of opportunities getting on base, the Hawks also stole four bases between Bryce Achenbach, Jack Grell, Pacey Moats and Trevor Simmons.
Colby Tague — who scored one run in the first inning — also benefited from the populated base paths. His three hits drove in two runs on the night to extend his team-lead to 21 RBIs this season. Jamison drove through three runs, as did Simmons who came alive with a perfect 2-for-2 performance at the plate.
This one counts for real
As the postgame interview ended, Evans looked at ACGC taking a knee for the last time. That's precisely what he wants to avoid this year with a group of a dozen seniors on Saturday in the district finals against Panorama.
Woodward won both games against the Panthers this season, but this third round will be a season-ender for someone. There's extra motivation to complete the trifecta.
Saturday will be the last time the seniors play on their home field regardless of outcome against the Panthers, who were an honorable mention in the final coaches poll. And the Hawks barely won 4-2 and 1-0 in the series so far this season.
“I'm not really pumping the other team in their heads as much as critiquing little things for us and thinking about us and not them,” Evans said. “We know who they are. We got to remember who we are.”