Jonathan Law too much for Centaurs
The hugs at the end of the game on Thursday at the Bentley Athletic Complex quickly led to tears.
Unfortunately, in high school baseball, only four teams leave the field with tears of joy streaming down their faces.
The Woodstock Academy program was hoping it might be one of those.
Jonathan Law had other ideas.
The Milford-based high school came to the Quiet Corner and handed the Centaurs a 9-0 loss in a Class L state tournament game.
“That’s a very good team,” said Woodstock Academy coach Brian Murphy. “I’m proud of our guys. We battled. (Thursday) just wasn’t our day. They saved their ace for us and he looked like their ace. You have to give credit where it’s due and the kid pitched an outstanding game and they had some timely hits.”
Josh Baker faced just three batters over the minimum for Jonathan Law.
He set the Centaurs down in order in the first three innings before hitting Eric Preston with a pitch with two outs in the fourth inning. Luke Mathewson followed with a single but Baker’s third strikeout of four got him out of the inning.
Pete Spada had the only other hit, a single, in the sixth inning for the Centaurs.
“He had a great fast ball, definitely mid-80’s, something we haven’t seen much of this year so it was tough to get the bat around on it,” Mathewson said.
Woodstock Academy had high hopes coming into the game.
The Lawmen were only the No. 26 seed and had just got past No. 7 Wilcox Tech, 6-1, on Wednesday.
It gave the 23rd-seeded Centaurs a bonus home game.
“We thought we had a chance,” Mathewson said. “Second-round game at home, we felt like we had a chance for sure. I thought Senior Day was going to be our last home game, but winning (Wednesday) meant we had a good chance at playing another home game. It was just a tough outcome.”
Jonathan Law reached Woodstock Academy starter Eric Preston for three runs in the second inning.
“We knew we would have to grind it out and I even started out an inning with Doug Newton trying to bunt his way on. We knew we had to manufacture something. They were a confident team and you could see why, they were nine-deep in the batting order and had their ace on the mound, but we battled,” Murphy said.
The Lawmen put the game out of reach with three more runs in the fifth and three in the seventh.
The Centaurs made it look easy in the first round.
They delivered one of their better offensive performances of the season in a 10-0 win over 10th-seeded Hillhouse High School in New Haven.
Mathewson would have liked to have saved some of the 16-hit attack to use against Jonathan Law.
He didn’t need all of that support as he allowed the Academics just one hit, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter.
“I didn’t want to take off the Woodstock Academy jersey yet,” said Mathewson who will be playing for Westfield State in the fall. “I wanted to put it on at least one more time so I had to go out there and do what I can for the team.”
Mathewson’s effort meant he finished the season with a 7-4 record on the mound including seven complete games. He allowed only 13 earned runs and 50 hits in 64 innings for an earned run average of 1.42. His control was superb throughout the season as he struck out 80 and only yielded nine walks.
“Luke is a special kid,” Murphy said. “I’ve given him the ball in some funny circumstances this year and he’s just a competitor.”
Mathewson had three hits and an RBI in the win over Hillhouse to finish with a team-best .432 batting average. He was also second on the team in RBIs with 19.
Preston took that runs batted in title with 20 and hit .328 on the season. He had two of those and four hits in the win over the Academics.
Nathan John was the third of the senior trio in the middle of the batting order. The first baseman hit at a .343 clip with 18 runs driven in.
“Eric was a competitor every game. Nate John had an incredible year. Pete Spada was great in relief despite a bad knee and Matt Moffitt stole us a run against Plainfield and won the game for us. We’re going to miss those guys next year,” Murphy said.
The Centaurs finished with a 12-12 mark.
“We’re happy. Twelve wins. That’s (two) more than last year. Great season. I’m incredibly proud of all these guys who put on the uniform every day. Some play more than others, but we all did our job,” Mathewson said.
Murphy will not have empty shelves returning next year.
He will have to replace the heart of his order but he started that process this year with freshmen Jonathan Smith (.281, 7 RBIs, 3 doubles); Hamilton Barnes (.231, 5 RBIs) and Brendan Hill .214, 3 RBIs) all seeing plenty of playing time.
The Centaurs will also should have their No. 3 starting pitcher, Tommy Li (4-3, 2.51 era in 22 1/3 innings) back. Li was also solid at the plate with a .303 batting average and eight RBIs.
Newton (.235, 7 RBIs), Jacob Hernandez (.234, 3 RBIs, 2 doubles) and Luis Miranda (.246, 7 RBIs) are also slated to return.
“We look to build on our successes. We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We’re excited about next year. Sad to see these guys go, but we will get ready for next year,” Murphy said.
Centaurs roll past Hillhouse
Senior Luke Mathewson pitched a 1-hitter with nine strikeouts to lead the Centaurs to a 10-0 Class L state tournament first-round win over No. 10 Hillhouse Wednesday in New Haven.
Mathewson also added three hits and two RBIs to help his own cause.
Eric Preston added three hits while freshman outfielder Hamilton Barnes drove in three runs in the win.
The Centaurs finished with 16 hits.
Woodstock Academy, the 23rd-seed, got an added bonus when No. 26 seed Jonathan Law downed seventh-seeded Wilcox Tech, 6-1.
It means the Centaurs will host Jonathan Law in a second-round game at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
Baseball falls in quarterfinal; Hillhouse next
Unlike some coaches in the Eastern Connecticut Conference, Woodstock Academy baseball coach Brian Murphy was playing to win the league tournament.
Lyman Memorial just got in the way.
The 11th-seeded Centaurs got past sixth-seeded Griswold in eight innings, 7-3, last Tuesday, in a play-in game, but lost in the bottom of the seventh to the third-seeded Bulldogs in a quarterfinal matchup last Wednesday, 4-3.
The season is not over for the Centaurs.
Woodstock Academy (11-11) is ranked No. 23 in the Class L state tournament and is scheduled to play at No. 10 Hillhouse High School in New Haven on Tuesday in a first-round game. .
“It’s a bit of a long trip,” Murphy said. “We preached to the kids all year how important the record is because there is no place like home especially at Bentley. It’s a beautiful park. I remember when Harding had to come to us last year. It’s a bit of a road trip and makes an impact, but you know, I expect our guys to be ready to play.”
Last week was a bit of a disappointment for the Centaurs coach and team.
“I thought the (Eastern Connecticut Conference) tournament set up well for us, I really did,” Murphy said.
Murphy had senior Eric Preston available to pitch against Griswold, Luke Mathewson against Lyman and freshman Brendan Hill for a semifinal against either Waterford or Montville had the Centaurs got that far.
“I’m glad we beat Griswold, kids did a nice job, but we wanted more,” Murphy said. “Lyman was definitely a game we felt very confident about (the Centaurs had beaten the Bulldogs earlier this season, 2-1). They executed when they needed to. Tip your cap to them.”
Woodstock Academy tied the game against Lyman Memorial at three in the fourth inning when Mathewson (2-for-3) and Nathan John (2-for-3) singled and Luis Miranda reached on an error.
Hill knocked in one run with a single, Hamilton Barnes drew a bases-loaded walk and Tommy Li (2-for-4) added a run-scoring single but it would be the final run that the Centaurs could push across.
Mathewson kept the Centaurs in the game after that.
“Luke was tough as nails. He allowed only four hits, had 12 strikeouts and battled,” Murphy said.
Lyman Memorial won the game in the bottom of the seventh.
The seventh batter in the order, Josh Perry, reached on an error and went to second on the play.
Zach Crawford bunted Perry over to third and Josh Person, the ninth batter, singled up the gut to knock in the game-winner.
It wasn’t much easier against Griswold the day before.
The Centaurs were up by three runs going into the bottom of the sixth.
It just doesn't come that easy to this team.
"We’ve lived on the edge all year,"Murphy said.
Griswold rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, but the Centaurs came back in the top of the eighth.
"I told them when it was tied at three that they had worked too hard, they've been in this situation before, this is your game, let's go get it," Murphy said.
The bottom of the order responded.
Hill started the winning rally with a bleeder just over first base that fell in for a single.
"That was the key at-bat," Murphy said. "We've talked about this all year, two-strike approach, go to right field. He didn't try to do too much, got the bat on the ball and got it into right field."
Barnes attempted a sacrifice bunt and it worked even better than expected.
The ball was dropped on the play and Barnes reached safely.
Li followed with another bunt and, again, reached safely to load the bases.
Doug Newton drove in what proved to be the game-winner for the Centaurs when he slapped a ball to first base. Griswold first baseman Jason Hall had only one play, a throw to home, and Hill beat the throw home.
Preston followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3 and Mathewson completed a perfect day at the plate (4-for-4) with a solid double to right-center field.
"It's a big thing hitting the ball hard," Mathewson said. "When you hit the ball hard, even when it's an out, it's confidence at the plate, seeing the ball well and hitting is contagious."
The Centaurs finished with one of their best offensive performances of the year.
They pounded out 16 hits.
In addition to Mathewson, Li was 4-for-5, freshman Jonathan Smith had three hits and Newton added a pair.
Mathewson and Preston were named ECC first team Division I All-Stars.
Nathan John was chosen as honorable mention and scholar-athlete award winner and Matt Moffitt recieved the ECC sportsmanship award.