By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
This week was going to be a big one for the Woodridge Bulldogs, who entered their two-game series with Garfield two games behind the G-Men and a game back of both Windham and Southeast in the County Division standings.
"This series was obviously big for us," Woodridge head coach Dennis Dever said. "Garfield came in undefeated, and we knew that we had to win both of these games to even have a chance to get back into the top of the conference standings."
Garfield entered Tuesday's game at Woodridge a perfect 6-0 in the league -- but that didn't last for long as seven unanswered runs by the Bulldogs erased a G-Men lead and handed them their first league loss of the year in a 7-4 Woodridge victory.
Senior Brad Snyder slapped a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fourth to give the Bulldogs the lead, and junior teammate Kevin Kelleher extended it with a two-run double off of the fence in left during a four-run fifth inning.
On Wednesday, Kelleher pitched the Bulldogs to his third win of the season with a complete-game effort. Kelleher scattered five hits as the Bulldogs again beat Garfield, 4-3.
"For sure right now, our two leaders are Brad Snyder and Kevin Kelleher," Dever said. "Brad has thrown a great game every time out as our No. 1 (starter) and has been getting a lot of big, key hits with runners on base.
"Kevin is our No. 2 pitcher, and he's been riding a three-game win streak for us. He is, no-doubt our leader at the plate," Dever added. "He is at the top of our lists in a lot of (offensive) categories, including runs and RBI."
While Southeast remains atop the County Division, the Pirates still have two-game sets with Garfield and Windham left.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs have a comparitively lighter slate, with series against East Canton, Rootstown and Waterloo to close out their league schedule.
Obviously, an unexpected loss can happen on any given day — and Dever said he is well aware of what his team needs to focus on.
“It’s a cliche, but we have to take this one game at a time and control what we can control: the next game,” Dever said. “We’ve been on a nice win streak, but East Canton is up next in the league, and they always play us tough, so we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Over in the Metro Division, Field (7-1) is atop the Metro Division standings after Roosevelt outlasted Ravenna on Wednesdsay for a 7-6, nine-inning win.
Ravenna took the first game between the rivals on Tuesday in another extra-inning affair, 5-4 after Cody Autry slammed a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
Roosevelt returned the favor on Wednesday when Ravenna’s Kyle Kornbau walked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth to hand Roosevelt the win.
“This was a tough loss for us, especially after the way we were able to pull it out in eight innings on Tuesday,” Ravenna head coach Sonny Tilden said. “The league is tough (this season) and it is tough for anyone to win both games against anyone.”
Roosevelt starter Zak Janus (2-3) made it into the eighth inning on Tuesday, throwing 120 pitches before being replaced by reliever Aaron Pinsoneault.
But Roosevelt head coach Mike Haney said that he really liked what he saw in defeat from Janus, who gave up four runs in the hard-luck loss.
“I’ve seen a lot of pitchers throw a lot of great games, but Zak’s performance was just awesome and he threw the ball really well,” Haney said. “It was hard to see him take the loss because I felt like we did enough to win.”
Pinsoneault returned in reliev on Wednesday and was the pitcher of record for the Rough Riders, moving his record to 4-0 on the season.
The date to keep an eye on for Field and Ravenna is May 13 and 14, as the top two teams are set to begin their two-game series.
As for Roosevelt, Haney said that he just has to hope his team — much like Woodridge — can close out the season strong and get some help from the teams above them.
“We were able to bring Ravenna down a little clsoer to us in the standings (on Wednesday),” Haney said. “But we still need them to go out and get a sweep of Field because we need all the help we can get.
“It’s just frustrating because we feel like we did everything we needed to do to beat Ravenna (in Tuesday’s loss) and we just laid an egg earlier this year in that loss to Coventry,” Haney said. “Field beat us, but we came back and Zak beat them. We feel like we’re as good as anyone in the league right now, but things haven’t always gone our way.”