Centaur pg 9 5-31-18

Eric Preston has been the starting catcher for most of the season for the Woodstock Academy baseball team.
Lately, he’s been a strong No. 2 starter on the mound for the Centaurs.
The junior allowed only one hit and struck out 12 May 26 at the Bentley Athletic Complex to lead the No. 31 Centaurs to a 7-1 victory over 34th-seeded Harding of Bridgeport in a Class L state tournament qualifying round game.
The win sent the Centaurs into a first-round game against second-seeded North Haven on Tuesday in a game that ended too late for this edition.
Several members of the baseball team remember the last trip a Centaurs team made to North Haven. The boys’ basketball team was handed a 91-53 loss by North Haven in a Division III first-round game this past winter.
“Eric is a competitor,” Woodstock Academy coach Brian Murphy said of Preston’s winning effort May 26. “Whether you want him to catch or play shortstop or pitch – he’s a pistol. He will do whatever he needs to do for the team and players like that are very special. They want to win. They are team players and will contribute in any way they can.”
The only hit off Preston came in the second inning, but he was able to strike out the side to end any threat.
The only run came in the fifth when Preston walked the lead-off batter and, two outs later, two consecutive errors allowed the run to score.
“He had a great game against a pretty scrappy team, they were decent. They were solid in the field. We caught a couple of breaks with a couple of dropped third strikes and that was the game,” Murphy said.
The Centaurs (10-12) put the game away in the fourth when they sent nine batters to the plate and scored four times.
Luke Mathewson led off with a single and advanced on a ground out. Jake Black drew a walk and Zach Ellsworth broke the ice with an RBI single.
Harding should have been out of the inning much sooner as, after a walk to Doug Newton, losing pitcher Howard Stultz, struck out the next three batters.
But the last two saw the third strike dropped which resulted in two more runs for the Centaurs.
Woodstock added another run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to give Preston some breathing room.
Cam Lotter was the only player with more than one hit for the Centaurs, he finished with a pair of singles.
“I hope it’s a confidence boost. I told the kids to take it one game at a time- it’s a new season. Have some fun and leave it all on the field. At the end of the day, when you leave it all on the field, there is a good chance that something good will happen,” Murphy said.
The Centaurs didn’t fare so well in the play-in game for the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament.
The Academy was the No. 13 seed and had to travel to fourth-seeded Plainfield May 22. The Panthers prevailed, 6-2.
“We had some chances early in the game and could not convert,” Murphy said. “There were a few balls that fell in for them that should have been caught, but weren’t. That was the game. Give (Plainfield) credit. They came back, did a nice job and scrapped, but we were right there with them.”
Woodstock took the 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Mathewson singled and later scored on a single by Newton, but the Centaurs left the bases loaded.
Plainfield tied the game in the bottom of the second only to see the Centaurs regain the lead in the top of the third when Preston hit his first homer of the season.
The Panthers again answered with a run in the bottom of the inning, went ahead in the fifth and sealed the win with a three-run sixth inning.
“It was a good experience, but you don’t want to just get there, you want to win. We had a lot of young kids with us that got their feet wet. I told them they have to give themselves permission to play ball and be on the field with good teams and they will be a better team. They have given me the effort all year though,” Murphy said.
Later in the week, it was announced that Mathewson was named an ECC Division II first-team All-Star while Preston received honorable mention honors.
“They both deserve it,” Murphy said. “Luke has been a grinder on the mound all year as the go-to guy and had an incredible number of hits (at the plate), I think he was second in the league in hits. He had a phenomenal season and deserved (the award).”
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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