Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Woodlawn dominates Bison for 2A title

Leader sportswriter

FAYETTEVILLE – Shaky pitching, inconsistent batting and a complete meltdown on the part of senior left fielder Haydon Hoover all led to a painful 14-2 loss for Carlisle to Woodlawn in the 2A state championship game at Baum Stadium on Saturday.

The Bison (29-7) started the evening with a brief ceremony for six Carlisle senior players to receive their diplomas shortly before the start of the game in light of missing graduation, but things turned decidedly unceremonial in the bottom of the fourth inning when Hoover went on a tirade for being called out after stepping out of the batter’s box on a shot to centerfield.

The Bears (33-5) had just blown the game wide open in the top of the fourth inning with seven runs off six hits and two walks to take a 12-2 lead. Hoover’s smack down the middle advanced walk recipient Dylan Brazeal to third before home plate umpire Steve Powell called Hoover out for an illegally batted ball and ordered Brazeal back to second base.

That’s when things turned ugly.

On his way back to the home dugout, Hoover began to shout at Powell and gestured toward him after throwing his helmet against the dugout, prompting Powell to eject him from the game. Carlisle coach B.J. Greene approached Hoover in the dugout in an attempt to calm him down. Hoover was calm for a moment, but then suddenly charged out of the dugout to the front of home plate, where he motioned to the ground and began kicking dirt at Powell and onto the plate.

Hoover then crossed the line further by spitting at Powell’s feet and giving him a shove in the chest. A female fan made things worse with more unsportsmanlike behavior as she stood on top of the Carlisle dugout cheering the player’s tirade.

Police eventually escorted Hoover and his parents out, with Hoover saving his most offensive gesture for last as he was guided up the steps of Baum Stadium to collective boos from the Woodlawn side.

“Embarrassed,” Greene said. “My seniors are embarrassed, I’m embarrassed – I’ve never been more embarrassed by anybody I’ve ever coached. It’s not him, I don’t know why he did it, but I’m embarrassed, and that’s all I can say. I think it was a cheap call to give at this time of the game, it was already out of control, but yeah, he was out of the box.”

Things were already tough for the Bison as Woodlawn jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning against starting pitcher Trey Wilson, who also got in a bind in the top of the second before being replaced by Josh Mathis.

None of the three Bison pitchers that took the mound had their best stuff. They combined to walk nine Woodlawn batters to go with their 14 base hits.

With bases loaded, Mathis walked Colton Williams to score Jacob Richardson. Mathis recovered, however, by striking out Bret Boyd and Ryan Dorsett swinging to retire the side, holding the Bears to a 5-2 lead.

Mathis gave up one hit in the top of the third but forced a pop-up and two groundouts before the onslaught began in the top of the fourth.

Gavin Johnston doubled to right field and Daniel Rissinger hit a bunt single before a triple smash to deep left field by Boyd scored both of them to give Woodlawn a 7-2 advantage. Dorsett then reached on a walk, and Blake Brown hit a double to left to score Rissinger, making it 8-2. Senior Tommy Inman moved from centerfield in relief of Mathis and walked Trey Hankins to load the bases.

The Bears drove in four more runs, and scored two more runs in the top of the fifth on an infield error and a passed ball against a Carlisle defense that appeared hapless in light of Hoover’s exhibition moments earlier.

“I’m not going to sit there and say it let us down, because it got us to where we were at,” Greene said of the pitching. “But was it as good as it’s been all year? No. And that’s where we’ve won games all year is pitching, and it wasn’t there today.”

The Bison answered Wood-lawn for the most part early with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff batter Chris Hart grounded out to third before Inman reached on an infield error and Wilson reached on a walk. Deric Herring then hit a sacrifice fly to center to advance Inman to third, and Deron Ricks doubled down the third base line to score him and advance Wilson to third. Mathis followed Ricks with the only other hit for Carlisle against winning Woodlawn pitcher Johnston with an infield single to third that scored Wilson.

Ricks was then in position to score, but Brazeal hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Mathis out at second to retire the side.

“I hate being the freaking home team in a big game,” Greene said. “The nerves are so bad – that’s what it is. If you come in and you’re the visiting team, at least you get to get the nerves out at the plate. Even if you go one, two, three, you still get the nerves out. Instead, you have to go out there with the nerves in the first inning on defense. I think that was the big difference in the game.”

For Woodlawn, the victory marked its third-consecutive 2A state title through five championship game appearances in the last six years for the storied program. Johnston was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for his complete-game victory on the mound with five strikeouts against four walks, two hits and two earned runs.

“We were ready to hit,” Bears coach Tommy Richardson said. “We had a good week of practice, and I knew we were going to hit the ball. That’s a tribute to our conference. You’ve got Parker’s Chapel and Junction City, and then you have regionals where it doesn’t get any easier. When you get through all of that and get to play other people, it’s kind of nice.”