EL DORADO – It is hard to beat a team three times in one season. But that is exactly what Junction City did to Woodlawn Saturday afternoon as the Dragons defeated the Bears 6-4 in the semifinals of the 2A South Region tournament at Robert McKinnon Park at Parkers Chapel High School.
Junction City, the 7-2A East champion, scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie and advanced to Monday’s championship game.
Woodlawn (27-5) tied the game in the top of the fifth but four hits off of reliever Taylor Stitt and one hit off Jacob Richardson led to a four-run inning for the Dragons.
Stitt threw 49 pitches in Friday’s game against Gurdon, so head coach Tommy Richardson said Stitt’s curveball may have been a little flat.
“I probably should have brought Jacob in sooner,” Richardson said. “But hindsight is 20/20.
“I was trying to get one more inning out of Stitt before I went to Jacob.”
Stitt, who relieved starter Colton Williams, plunked Parker Hammett with one out in the fifth. Zach Doolin and Will Smith followed with a pair of singles to load the bases.
Blake McClellan hit a two-run single to break the tie and give Junction City a 4-2 lead.
Jacob Richardson came in and gave up a single to Keegan Hanry, which scored a third run. McClellan later scored on a wild pitch to give the Dragons the 6-2 lead.
A pair of RBI singles in the top of the sixth got Woodlawn within two runs. The Bears might have scored a couple more, but a diving catch by center fielder McClellan led to a double play and prevented a huge inning.
“Their center fielder made a great play,” coach Richardson said. “I thought the ball was down, (Williams) thought it was down.
“But it wasn’t. That’s tribute to him. He made a great play.”
In the top of the sixth, Colby Ferguson singled with one out – his second hit of the day – and Trey Chapman followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and second.
Williams singled home Ferguson and Jacob Richardson singled to plate Chapman. It cut the deficit to 6-4.
J.P. Aiken hit a towering shot to center field and it appeared to burn McClellan, but he made a diving catch and doubled up Williams at second to end the inning.
Woodlawn will play in the consolation final on Monday against Dierks.
“We keep ourselves composed a lot,” Caleb Holleman said. “Because we know we got the mentality to keep it together and get ourselves back in the game.”
Holleman finished 1 for 4 with two RBIs. His two-run single in the top of the sixth inning tied the game.
“I knew I had to do my job with bases loaded and two outs,” Holleman said. “… But it was a team effort.
“They had to get runners on base in order for me to do that.”
Following his hit, Holleman turned to the Woodlawn bench and said, “What about two strikes?”
Holleman, who was facing a 2-2 count when he singled home the tying runs, said 75 percent of his batting percentage this year has been when he is facing an 0-2 or a 1-2 count.
“We just have to keep our ourselves composed and play Woodlawn baseball,” Holleman said of the team’s focus as it heads into next week’s state tournament.
Williams is credited with a no-decision in the loss as he pitched four innings and allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.
“I thought he pitched very well,” coach Richardson said. “I thought about leaving him, but he was going through the order the third time and it made me nervous.”
For Junction City, Colton Sellers earns the win after lasting just one-third of an inning. He allowed one run (earned) on three hits with a strikeout. Smith earns the no-decision as he went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout. He was also 3 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and a double.
In the top of the fourth inning, Woodlawn had a chance to plate a couple of runs but was thrown out at the plate twice, although the Bears were sure the first one was a missed call.
“I sent the second one because of where we were in the order,” coach Richardson said. “I felt like we needed to take the chance.
“But I knew if the throw was one he would be out and it was. The first one, it is not debatable, he was safe.”
Williams led the Bears with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Jacob Richardson was 2 for 4 with an RBI and Jayden Fultz was 2 for 4.
Woodlawn 7, Junction City 5
EL DORADO — Woodlawn advanced to the championship game of the 2A South Region with a 7-5 win over Junction City Saturday afternoon at Parkers Chapel High School.
Woodlawn scored four runs in the first and one in the second, third and sixth inning.
Maddie Stewart had two hits for the Lady Bears.