By David Miles, Sports Correspondent
Woodstock jumped out to an early 6-0 lead at Lamoille in the quarterfinal round of the Division II baseball playoffs. The Lancers came back and took the momentum in the latter half of the game, but they could not take the lead and the Wasps held on for the thrilling 6-5 victory.
The game ended with the tying and winning runs on base, but Zach Cole ended the game doing what he did all afternoon – recording another big strikeout. (He had 12 in the game.) After denying conventional wisdom and putting the lead run on base with an intentional walk, Cole whiffed centerfielder Eric Hoadley for the third time in the game and jumped off the mound in celebration.
“Baseball is about gambles,” said coach Jason Tarleton. “And we thought the tall shortstop was a bigger threat.” That shortstop, Riley Fitzgerald had tripled off the fence, narrowly missing a home run, in the fourth inning, as the home team slowly crept back into the game.
A Bradley Lewis double was the big hit in a two-run first inning for WUHS. Matt Poljacik crossed home plate in the second as the Wasps scored without the benefit of a hit. Dougie Avellino’s sacrifice fly to left field brought Poljacik home.
In the third Woodstock struck for three runs, all of which came after two outs. Dylan Kuhn tripled to start the rally and Hunter Balch knocked home the final two runs with a bases-loaded single.
Even with Lamoille chipping away, Woodstock played combined solid defense and strong pitching to keep them at bay.
“I had full confidence in Zach on the mound,” said fellow senior Lewis. “I’ve been playing ball with him since we were seven years old and I knew what he was capable of.”
The win was the 100th career victory for Tarleton. He said it was “extra special to have his eighth grade son accompany the team to the game and be a tiny part of it.”
Woodstock travels north again on Monday to face top-seeded Harwood in the semifinals for a 4:30 p.m. game.