Brad Woodfield knows he does not throw hard enough to overpower opposing batters. He does not consider that to be a problem and has the results to back that up. Woodfield, Sherwood's 6-foot-2 right-handed senior, struck out five batters and used a well-timed pickoff to pitch his third shutout of the season, a 4-0 victory over Thomas Johnson yesterday in Bowie in a Maryland 4A semifinal.
Sherwood (14-7) extended its winning streak to six games and continued the best postseason run in school history. The Warriors, who previously had never won a regional tournament, advanced to Friday's state final against either No. 8 Bowie or Thomas Stone; Bowie had a 3-2 lead with Thomas Stone batting in the top of the third inning when their semifinal was suspended because of a thunderstorm. It will be resumed today at 4 p.m.
In the first semifinal, Sherwood scored two runs in the bottom of the second then watched its star pitcher make the lead stand up. Woodfield allowed at least one base runner in every inning, but never seemed to lose focus, continually throwing his curveball for strikes whenever needed. And his best play came in the top of the third, after Thomas Johnson had loaded the bases with two outs. Woodfield narrowly missed picking the runner off first base, but persisted and was successful on a second try, ending the threat.
"I thought we had him the first time," said Woodfield, who is 7-2 with an 0.94 earned run average and plans to play at Lafayette next season.
"I knew I would have to be a little quicker and a little better to get the call."
That was the only time Thomas Johnson (16-8) advanced a runner to third base. Woodfield allowed five hits and hit four batters with his off-speed pitches, but allowed few hard hits.
"I get a little zip on my fastball, but not enough to overpower anybody," Woodfield said. "I like to hit my spots and keep my fastball low. It's a lot easier to get a ground ball than to strike someone out."
Urbana Looks to Next Year
Following a 2-0 loss to C.M. Wright in the Maryland 3A semifinals, Urbana junior catcher Mike Cario looked around at his teammates in their postgame huddle and took this mental note -- see you all next year.
While Urbana's magical run through the postseason ended a game too soon, the Hawks return their entire roster next year. It was a junior-dominated team with a couple of underclassmen that won four straight playoff games and its first regional title, looking nothing like the version that went 6-14 during the regular season.
"It was a great experience for all of us," said Cario, who reached base all three times at bat, while his teammates only managed three singles and two walks. "We're already thinking about next year."
C.M. Wright (17-5) will play for its first state championship Saturday at 7 against the winner of Centennial-Leonardtown, which was called last night due to rain. The game will resume today at 5:30 p.m. with a scoreless contest after one inning.
The Hawks could not figure out C.M. junior left-hander Mike Roberts, who struck out eight with a terrific curveball and change-up. With the game tied in the bottom of the fourth inning and runners on second and third with one out, Roberts struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Two innings later, with the bases loaded and one out, junior designated hitter Danny McNamara hit a sharp shot up the middle on which C.M. Wright shortstop Steve Donithan made a terrific stop to trigger an inning-ending double play.
"That ball's three feet either way, and we tie the game," said Urbana sophomore C.J. Bliffin, who pitched four scoreless innings before reaching his week's limit of 14 set by state guidelines.
C.M. Wright scored in the top of the fifth on a two-out single by senior catcher Calb Cole. Brian Ford's sacrifice fly the following inning closed out the scoring.