Woodbury Blue down but not out after playoff-opening loss
No, it wasn’t the ideal start to the legion playoffs for Woodbury Blue.
And while coach Kyle Hunt said it’s a “very hard” task in front of his crew, Woodbury Blue is far from out of it.
The squad features an abundance of starting pitchers capable of carrying it through what must be a long weekend of games if it hopes to advance.
“If any team can do it, we can do it,” Hunt said.
Woodbury Blue was shorthanded against Burnsville Thursday. Hunt had just nine players at his disposal, the bare minimum required to fill a lineup, forcing some players to play out of position.
“It’s hard when we don’t have enough guys,” Hunt said.
Still, Woodbury Blue led much of the way Thursday, thanks almost entirely to Ben Meyer.
Meyer launched a two-run homer in the first inning on Thursday -- his birthday.
Meyer held the lead he built for Woodbury until the sixth inning, when Burnsville scored in the sixth to tie the game at 2-2.
“Ben I can’t say enough about,” Hunt said. “He’s a great guy all the way around. I felt like the umpire was squeezing him a bit and he didn’t let it bother him.”
But Burnsville finally broke through in a big way in the eighth inning, tallying five runs as it batted through its entire order. None of the hits were struck well, but all either blooped or snaked their way into the outfield.
“That sucks when they get those little hits off of him,” Hunt said. “It’s tough, but Ben pitched well.”
Woodbury attempted to rally from the five-run deficit in the ninth. Jordan Wilkerson ripped a two-run double to close the gap to 7-4, but that’s all the closer Woodbury could get.
Wilkerson smacked the ball all day, going 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, continuing the solid play he contributed throughout the second half of the season.
“It’s in the biggest situations, too,” Hunt said. “It’s not just the first inning, it’s every inning after that, both defensively and offensively. He’s come up big for us. He wasn’t on our original roster and we pulled him up because we didn’t have enough guys, so he was a huge acquisition at the start of the year because he’s grown a lot just in these few games. I’m happy to have him.”
Meyer and Jack Kohlbeck also tallied two hits in the loss.
Woodbury Blue commences its attempt to come back through the lower bracket Friday afternoon as it takes on Rosemount. Woodbury Blue is expected to have more players available as it pulls people up from the VFW squad. Nick Bentley will start on the mound Friday.
“We’ve got to battle all of the way,” Hunt said. “One more loss and we’re done. For all of the seniors that are still here, I want them to play a little more.”