Demons bounce Bobcats
It was smooth sailing for Washington baseball through the first three innings of its first district playoff game on Friday.
The Demons held a 2-0 lead at that point, and Elijah Wood, in his first postseason start, had been superb up to that point giving up one hit and one walk through the first three frames.
In the top of the fourth, Benton loaded the bases on back-to-back two-out walks and a single, but Wood reared back and got the Demons out of the inning, but Benton wasn’t going away.
A run in the bottom of the fourth made it 3-0, but Wood walked the first two batters of the fifth, which brought Washington head coach Nathan Miller out of the dugout to talk to his ace.
“He was a little tight and was guiding the ball a bit,” Miller said. “I told him, ‘Listen, you are up here and have pitched for us in all of our games that we needed you this year, and you are our ace because you are our best.’ That’s a big experience point for him because he knows how to get out of a postseason jam.”
After the meeting, Benton attempted a sacrifice bunt, but the ball was popped up into Wood’s glove, who quickly fired the ball to first to get the double play.
A single made it 3-1, but the Demons had gotten out of the jam, and after that Wood settled down.
“I just had to get a little aggressive and a little angry and shove,” Wood said. “I moved over a bit on the mound and that helped out, so when I found my spot, I brought the heat on again.”
The senior ace put down Benton in order in the sixth and seventh to close out the game and gave Washington a 6-1 district win.
“The postseason is totally different than any regular season game you can come up with,” Miller said. “I thought he did a great job. He started off quick, hit a little bit of a lull in the middle innings, so I challenged him and he piped back up and the next couple innings he was in cruise control again.”
The Demons got things started quickly when Tanner Knupp led the bottom of the first off with an infield single and stole second base.
Walker Breard then launched a ball over the right field fence to give Washington a 2-0 lead they’d hold until the fourth.
“I thought it was going to hit the top of the fence,” Breard said. “It’s a pretty tall fence here, so I didn’t think it was gone. It felt good because it gave Elijah something to build on.”
In the fourth inning, Mason Quigley picked up a leadoff double, then was driven in on an RBI single by Jacob Green.
Holding a 3-1 lead going into the sixth, the Demons added some insurance on an RBI double by Knupp and a two-RBI single by Breard.
“We had opportunities in just about every inning to put runs across the board,” Miller said. “Some innings we did, others we didn’t, but we put enough across to get the victory.”
Breard finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Knupp (2-for-4) and Wood (2-for-3) also picked up multi-hit games for the Demons.
On the mound, Wood gave up four hits and five walks, while striking out eight batters as he picked up the complete game win.
Washington’s district final opponent will be Solon, who downed Washington on July 15 21-2. The Demons will look to avenge the loss as they attempt to move on to sub-state.
“Our confidence is back now,” Breard said. “(Playing Solon again,) we get another chance to beat them.”
The game starts at 7 p.m. on Monday night in Solon.