The Winston Churchill High School baseball team put five runs on the board in the first inning of Friday's Class 4A West Region championship game and never looked back, defeating host Thomas S. Wootton by a score of 10-5.
“We knew [Andrew] Craig was pitching, so we wanted to come out with a bang,” Brandon Hubbard said. “We rattled him early.”
Five batters reached base, and three runs crossed the plate before the first out was recorded in the first inning. Hubbard delivered the big blow in the inning with a two-run single for the Bulldogs (11-10).
Hubbard scored his second run of the game in the second inning, advancing from third base after a botched pickoff attempt at second. Churchill pushed the lead to 7-0 in the fourth frame on a Nick Cohen RBI groundout that plated Zach Thibodeau.
“They came out, credit to them, with their bats swinging and they were able to capitalize on some runs,” Patriots coach J.D. Marchand said. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole.”
Wootton (13-8) looked poised to dig it's way out of that hole in the middle innings, sparked by a Glenny Woolschlager two-run home run to center in the bottom of the fourth. Woolschlager also drove in Boaz Ru with a single to right in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 7-4.
The game did not get any closer than that. The Bulldogs dampened any hopes of a comeback in the seventh inning by adding three more runs courtesy of RBI singles from Thibodeau, Ryan O'Connell and Matt O'Lone.
Churchill has now reeled off eight consecutive victories after a 3-10 start to the season, and claimed their first region title since 1985.
“One thing we preach about, is I have told these guys, 'You have got to believe,'” Bulldogs coach Scott Blackwood said. “It took a while for these guys to realize that we can compete, and this is just a testament to how hard we have worked, and how much we are playing for each other.”
Churchill advances to the state tournament for the third time in program history. The Bulldogs only state title came in 1979, when the largest schools played in Class 2A. Churchill faces North Region champion Catonsville in the state semifinals, with play scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Maryland's Shipley Field in College Park.
Churchill 10, Wootton 5
Churchill (11-10) 5 1 0 1 0 0 3 -- 10 10 4
Wootton (13-8) 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 -- 5 8 1
WP -- Michael Albers.
LP -- Andrew Craig.
S -- Eric Brodkowitz
HR -- W: Glenny Woolschlager.
2B -- C: Zach Thibodeau 2, Ryan O'Connell, Michael Albers.
RBI -- C: Brandon Hubbard 2, Ryan O'Connell 2, Drew Legum, Matt O'Lone, Zach Thibodeau; W: Glenny Woolschalger 3, Brett Keenan, Andrew Craig.
R -- C: Zach Thibodeau 3, Brandon Hubbard 2, Ryan O'Connell, Nick Cohen, Matt O'Lone, Matt Castelli, Michael Albers; W: Kevin Mooney, Boaz Ru, Andrew Craig, Glenny Woolschlager, Matt Hsing.