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Oak Ridge baseball team rallies to breeze past Woodland
Oak Ridge starter Kelby Brown recently dislocated a finger on his pitching hand, which had a lingering effect when he returned to the mound Tuesday against Woodland.
"He said he couldn't throw his knuckleball for a strike," Oak Ridge coach Patrick Friga said. "You could tell he was struggling with it, and then he said his curveball wasn't working, so that was two out of three."
Woodland jumped out to a 4-0 lead on four hits and a walk in the second inning, but host Oak Ridge quickly responded and eventually won 17-7 in six innings.
The Blue Jays scored seven times in the bottom of the second inning on just two hits.
Woodland starter C.J. McAlister walked three batters and hit two in the inning. The Cardinals also committed an error in the inning, which allowing two runs to score.
"We didn't throw strikes, didn't work ahead in the count and pretty much beat ourself quite a bit there," Woodland coach Jason Crane said. "You have to give credit to Oak Ridge -- they went up there and didn't hack at pitches out of the strike zone. But we had a hard time throwing strikes today."
McAlister, who dropped to 4-4 with the loss, was relieved by senior Hayden Mayfield with one out in the third inning. He walked four and hit three.
"He's beaten some good teams, and at times he's the guy to have in the game," Crane said. "But the last couple games he's had a little trouble with his control. It's just some mechanical issues, and we'll work on them."
Brown gave up just one more earned run after his team gave him the lead.
"If we'd scored none, we would have been in trouble," Friga said about the second inning. "But once he saw we could hit that pitcher a little bit, it helped."
Oak Ridge freshman second baseman Andrew Puchbauer was 2 for 2 with a walk, double and three RBIs.
"I saw the ball real good," Puchbauer said. "I've been taking lots of batting practice. I've been struggling lately, but I took lots of batting practice just trying to show myself and show the coach what I can do."
Puchbauer, the No. 9 hitter in the Blue Jays' lineup, said he prefers to ignore a pitcher's control problems.
"I never look for balls," Puchbauer said. "I always look for strikes. I know he was struggling, but I never let that get to me.
"I never think of a walk. I always think about hitting."
Brett Thomas was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, and Jake LeGrand was 2 for 4 with an RBI for Oak Ridge.
Eight different Woodland players collected a hit in the game, and the Cardinals actually outhit Oak Ridge 11-9.
"That was good to see," Crane said. "We've had trouble scoring runs the last couple games, so that was big. If we take one positive away from this game, it's that 1 through 9 was putting the ball in play and hitting the ball hard, moving runners around."
Sophomore Codey Miles was 3 for 4 with an RBI, while McAlister finished 2 for 3 with an RBI in the loss.
Oak Ridge, which received a first-round bye as the top seed in Class 1 District 3, improved to 11-5 while Woodland, the No. 4 seed in Class 2 District 3, dropped to 7-8.
WP -- Kelby Brown. LP -- C.J. McAlister, 4-4. 2B -- Neil Johnson (W), Aaron Yount (W), Brown (O), Brett Thomas (O), Jake LeGrand (O), Andrew Puchbauer (O). Multiple hits -- Woodland: Codey Miles 3-4, McAlister 2-3; Oak Ridge: Thomas 2-2, LeGrand 2-4, Puchbauer 2-2. Records -- Woodland 7-8, Oak Ridge 11-5.