Unlike some coaches in the ECC, 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 May 22, 4-3. The season is not over for the Centaurs.
Woodstock Academy is ranked No. 23 in the Class L state tournament and was scheduled to play at No. 10 Hillhouse High School in New Haven May 28 in a first-round game. The game ended too late for this edition.
“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. 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 finished with 16 hits.
In addition to Mathewson, Li was 4-for-5, freshman Jonathan Smith had three hits and Newton added a pair.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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