Baseball: Back-to-back section champs

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The journey to a second straight section title concluded for the Woodbury baseball team with a 4-1 victory over Stillwater at CHS Field on June 6.

The Royals used a three-run fifth inning to take their first and final lead of the game to clinch the section championship. Not only did junior Jack Horman deliver a two-out single that drove in two RBIs, including the go-ahead run, but he also was the winning pitcher after starting the game and holding the Ponies to one run in four innings.

“The coaches have been telling us since day one, just put the ball in play, and good things will happen,” Horman said about his RBI single. “That’s just what I tried to do.”

Horman pitched the first four innings, escaping from a few jams to allow just one run. One of those challenging innings came when the Ponies loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning with one out. But Horman forced a ground ball that turned into an inning-ending double play.

Max Meyer came on to pitch the final three innings once Woodbury had a lead, holding Stillwater to just one hit. Head coach Kevin McDermott said the game worked out almost exactly to plan.

“That was kind of the situation we were looking for,” McDermott said about using Meyer in relief. “To save his arm and get him into a close situation where he wouldn’t have to start a new game and have to go the whole way. It worked out great.”

Brodie Paulson drove in Woodbury’s first run in the top of the third inning on a RBI single, scoring Karl Scheit to tie the game at 1-1. Horman's two-out fifth inning single gave the Royals a 3-1 lead, and pinch runner Isaac Stauffacher also scored on an error to give the Royals an insurance run.

With a second consecutive Class 4A, Section 4 title in hand, the Royals will now have the opportunity to build on last year’s third-place finish in the state tournament.

Woodbury, which at one point this season dropped to a record of 4-6, has recently surged to nine straight victories through the section tournament.

The resurgence has come with a more consistent offense that has taken better at-bats.

“Earlier in the year, people were trying to hit balls, swinging too hard, rolling over,” Paulson said. “So it’s good that we could figure that out and do our jobs. That’s all it comes down to.”

The Class 4A tournament is scheduled to start on June 15 at CHS Field, a potential advantage with Woodbury's section playoff games taking place at the venue.

No matter who the Royals face in the opening round, they already have some practice playing close games in pressure situations.

“We know it’s going to be a grind-it-out game, just like this, just like all the games in our section,” McDermott said. “If we play the way we are capable of playing, we can win any game there. But we know if we don’t, somebody can beat us, too.”