HUDSON: Nearly everything that could go wrong did for Woodridge, and the Bulldogs lost a Division II regional final to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 16-1 at Hudson High School on Friday.
Woodridge (28-4) and its normally solid defense fell apart to the tune of six errors that led to nine unearned runs. The Bulldogs’ pitching struggled against a talented Lions offense, and the offense never could get much going until late in the game.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way too often, obviously,” Woodridge coach Dennis Dever said. “And we didn’t make the routine plays we had been making all year. That was probably the difference of the game more than anything else.”
The errors were particularly damaging. Already trailing 2-0, Woodridge’s defense committed its first two errors — one throwing, one fielding — that led to a six-run third inning for NDCL, though the Lions only had two hits in the inning.
With two outs and two runners on, a fielding error loaded the bases and a walk brought home the first run of the inning. That was followed with a single from NDCL pitcher Connor Kaucic, who helped his own cause by driving in two runs to make it 5-0. The second error made it 6-0. And a single by senior Cody Paterniti made it especially costly, bringing the score to 8-0.
A single, a fielder’s choice and another error in the top of the fourth inning allowed another run to score. By then, it was 9-0 and Kaucic (seven innings, six hits, one run, five strikeouts) was cruising.
“It can happen in baseball. You have to try to get through those valleys with minimal damage, and unfortunately that didn’t work out for us today,” Dever said. “We’ve played great defense all year. Today we didn’t. That’s baseball.”
The Lions added on in the sixth inning. Two hits and an error loaded the bases. Lions sophomore Nick Mann then emptied the bases with a three-run double to left-center field, making it 12-1. After a walk, senior Ryan Proud tripled home two more runs. And fittingly, an error allowed the final run of the game to come home.
Woodridge’s lone run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when with two outs senior Justin Whitely doubled to left-center field. Junior Christian Owens then singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. Senior Kevin Kelleher followed that with a single up the middle, scoring Whitely.
“I’m the most disappointed for my seniors,” Dever said. “I love this class. They’re great kids. You hate to go out with a loss in the regional final because we were so close to getting to Columbus. But we’ll be back. We have a great group coming back next year, good kids coming through and I’m very proud of the kids coming back. They’re going to want to get back here.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.