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Week of May 6: Woodstock Academy claims share of ECC Division I crown with 2-0 win over East Lyme

Sharing is a good thing in most instances.

Sports isn’t one of them.

On Saturday, the Woodstock Academy baseball team downed East Lyme, 2-0, to claim, at least, a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title.

The Centaurs still need a win over Waterford or Fitch to claim it outright.

And that is something that Woodstock Academy coach Connor Elliott would not mind have happen.

“It was our first goal coming into the year. We made a list and the first thing, baseball-wise, was to win the regular season championship. Took care of that (Saturday) which is a great feeling and we still have a week left to go in the regular season with a couple of more division games left to play and we want to finish strong heading into the ECC tournament. It’s nice to check one of those preseason goals off the list,” Woodstock Academy coach Connor Elliott said.

Brady Ericson made this one possible as he held East Lyme spellbound through seven innings.

The lefthander allowed only a pair of harmless singles and struck out eight.

“East Lyme put together some quality at bats and made him work but he was really dialed in. We’re seeing some maturity from him as the season has gone on in terms of his competitiveness, focus and intensity on mound. He really had a presence (Saturday) and we were watching and saying how we would not want to be a hitter against him right now,” Elliott said.

Ericson had to wait until the top of the seventh for a little offensive support.

Maxx Corradi singled to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to second. Keon Lamarche followed with a base hit and an error on the play allowed Corradi to score.

David Bunning came on to pinch run for Lamarche and came across on a Riley O’Brien single to account for the two runs.

“I thought we had a really good approach at the plate, still too many strikeouts especially with runners in scoring position, but we drove their pitch count up and executed our game plan up to that point. But, we have to finish things off and we left a runner in scoring position in six of the seven innings,” Elliott said.

The win was the 12th straight for the 15-1 Centaurs who are now 6-0 in ECC Division I.

The sun was shining brightly on Thursday at the Bentley Athletic Complex as it has been, seemingly, all year long on the baseball team.

Elliott was happy for the sunshine, not only to play, but also to celebrate Senior Day.

On this occasion, six of his players were honored prior to the game with Maloney High School from Meriden.

“It’s a special day. We’re blessed with the weather, that we got our field ready to go. We needed that for a few reasons, I didn’t know where we would have put this game had we not played (Thursday). I didn’t want to move any more around than we already have this spring,” Elliott said.

Just the night before, a severe thunderstorm pounded the area with hail and heavy rain.

But it did not hinder the proceedings for the six seniors who all hold a special place in Elliott’s first year as head coach.

Eric Mathewson: “He’s been with us for three years and has been a leader all of those. He has really come into his own with that and he’s having an amazing season,” Elliott said.

Riley O’Brien: “He’s been with us four years. I probably know him best on this team just because I can’t seem to get rid of him. He’s still here,” Elliott said with a laugh.

Noah Sampson: “He came back to the program after playing lacrosse and is an All-Eastern Connecticut Conference centerfielder for us,” Elliott said.

Jack Sumner: “He’s been a great role player for us. He’s a consummate team guy. Someone who doesn’t get as many reps as the others but does everything right, 100 percent of the time. You never have to worry about him," Elliott said.

Keon Lamarche: “We saw what he could to a baseball earlier this week and he’s a kid who has really come into his own. He has taken on a leadership role for us and is doing everything that is asked.”

David Bunning: “Football player David Bunning who I said to him ‘Hey, you’re fast. Do you want to come run bases for us?’ He bought into it. That’s a special kid right there because he has the same buy-in as the starters. He just wants to do what’s best for the team,” Elliott said.

After the brief ceremony, it was back to baseball and the Centaurs did what they have done best this season – win.

Woodstock Academy handed Maloney a 7-1 loss.

Corradi had a pair of doubles, scoring a run off of it in the first and driving in another in the fourth.

Matt Hernandez also had a pair of RBI singles to back the pitching of O’Brien.

The righthander improved to 4-1 on the season as he pitched a six hitter through six innings and struck out four.

Earlier in the week, it was a rare occurrence at the Bentley Athletic Complex.

A ball hit over the fence in left by Lamarche.

“It’s a deep field,” said Lamarche. “I didn’t think it was gone off the bat but I guess I gave it a little extra.”

Indeed he did.

And it came at a good time for the Woodstock Academy baseball team.

The Centaurs were leading Lyman Memorial by just two runs in the bottom the fifth.

The home run by Lamarche helped guarantee the Centaurs their third straight victory by shutout, 4-0 over the Bulldogs.

Corradi had opened the inning by drawing a walk but was thrown out attempting to steal.

O’Brien kept the inning going when he was hit by a pitch.

Up came Lamarche.

“That one was similar to the one he hit at South Windsor a week ago. It looked like a no-doubter but you never expect anything here to get out. I was waving trying to get Riley going from first to make sure he scores and, all of a sudden, I didn’t see it bounce and I saw the (Lyman outfielder’s hands go up) so I was going to say it was home run and no one can tell me otherwise because of how far away it is,” said Elliott.

The Woodstock Academy coach’s guesstimate was that it traveled at least 380 feet.

“It’s 434 to the corner, that’s crazy,” Lamarche said with a laugh. “I don’t think I’ve hit many balls over 400 feet.”

It was the senior’s second homer of the year.

“I’m feeling great. The guys are helping me out a little because we just have a crazy amount of energy through practices, great competition in practice, always trying to get a hit. I’m seeing the ball well right and a lot of (at-bats) with the guys has certainly helped a lot,” Lamarche added.

Lamarche wasn’t the only one who had a strong showing at the plate.

Sophomore Brady Lecuyer was, once again, in the right place at the right time.

Hernandez singled and Sampson reached on an error in the second inning.

Up came Lecuyer to the plate for just the 16th official time this season and he stroked a two-run double to put the Centaurs up, 2-0.

It was RBIs nos. 11 and 12 for Lecuyer.

“It’s crazy,” Elliott said.

But not unexpected as Elliott has been excited about what he has seen from Lecuyer at the plate.

“We know he’s a great hitter. We’re just trying to have him refine his approach a bit. When he stays on a baseball, lets it come to him and just tries to hit line drives up the middle, there is nothing he cannot hit. He’s a very talented hitter and he has shown that in big spots,” Elliot said.

It was all Mathewson really needed on the mound.

He went six innings, gave up just two hits and struck out nine before he yielded to Logan Coutu in the seventh.

The Centaurs have four games left to play in the regular season but will be on the road for the entire week.

Monday’s “home” game against North Branford will be played at St. Joseph’s College. The Centaurs then go on the road to play at Waterford, Fitch and St. Bernard.