Woodridge 3, ?Poland Seminary 2
The motto adopted by the Woodridge baseball team is “Never say die.”
The Bulldogs have been living up to it all year, becoming the first team in school history to win 28 games, and they lived up it a couple of times in Thursday’s Division II regional semifinal 3-2 victory over Poland Seminary at the Ballpark at Hudson.
Poland (21-7) had the tying run on third base with two outs in the seventh and its leadoff hitter at the plate, but junior closer Mike Walter bared down and got senior second baseman Chase Knodle to fly out to center.
In the third inning, Poland starter Pat Carlozzi, who no-hit West Branch in his last start, retired the first two Woodridge batters on just eight pitches. The next four batters made him throw 18 more and scored two runs in the process. Christian Owens singled, Tom Morehouse drew a walk and Kevin Kelleher roped a two-run, two-out double on a 3-0 fastball.
Things like these are the reasons why Woodridge coach Dennis Dever says his kids live up to that team motto every day.
“We’re one of those teams where two outs doesn’t matter to us; we’re going as hard as we can,” Dever said. “Last inning, two outs, it doesn’t matter. Until they get those 21 outs, we’re going to play as hard as we can for as long as we can.”
Woodridge scored the game’s first run in the first inning. The same three batters got on base and, again, it was Kelleher who drove in the run.
Owens reached on an error, Morehouse drew a walk and Kelleher drove them in on a single to give Woodridge a 1-0 lead.
Kelleher also got the start on the mound for Woodridge, throwing six innings and improving to 5-1 with the win. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk, striking out four.
“Kevin really came up big for us today,” Dever said. “He’s the guy whose hands we wanted the ball in for the start and he’s our guy when men are on base.”
But even Kelleher would tell you he didn’t do it all on his own. Every pitcher needs some help from his defense, and Kelleher got his against Anthony Calcagni, the first batter he faced in the third inning.
Calcagni smoked a line drive about 350 feet to dead center field in the spacious Hudson ballpark. Woodridge center fielder Anthony Yacobucci broke back on it but got turned around twice and had to make a diving, full-extension, over-the-shoulder catch to save himself, invoking thoughts of Willie Mays or Jim Edmonds.
“Their coach even said that was probably one of the greatest catches he’s ever seen,” Dever said. “I gotta tell you, I have to agree with him.”
Poland’s two runs came in the sixth inning when Carlozzi hit an RBI triple and later scored on a single by junior catcher Ricky Svedak.
Carlozzi struck out nine in 6? innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and five walks. He fell to 7-2 with the loss.
Jackson Taylor will get the start for Woodridge (28-3) in a regional final against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin at 5 p.m. today in Hudson.
NDCL 7, Canton South 0
Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin defeated Canton South at Hudson earlier Thursday. Starting pitcher Ryan Clark (5-2) struck out 10 in six innings, allowing just two hits and a walk. Jim Brinkman led the Lions (16-11) with three hits. Anthony Leonetti, Austin Jackson and Ryan Proud each had two hits.
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