Fresh off of a fourth straight district championship, the Woodhaven baseball team continued their run in the playoffs Wednesday afternoon.
Woodhaven vs. Monroe High baseball photo gallery
The Warriors headed to Ypsilanti Lincoln and took on Monroe High, who edged out Bedford on Saturday for their first district title since 2006.
Unfortunately for the locals, that was the end of the line as Monroe managed to pull off a 3-1 victory and qualified for the Division 1, Region 7 league game.
Hits and runs were hard to come by for two teams that had largely solid offenses throughout the season. Woodhaven averaged nearly six points per game and Monroe had about seven.
The Warriors (28-11) and Trojans combined for just eight hits in a regional semifinal where pitching reigned supreme
“It was a very well played game for both sides,” Woodhaven coach Corey Farner said. “I think both pitchers did a good job despite the conditions. I tip my cap to (Monroe pitcher Ryan Sieler) he did a great job on the mound, he pitched when he needed it And a tip of the cap to Monroe, they played better than us today and that’s why they’re moving on.”
Both teams went empty in the first two innings; Woodhaven blocked just one runner in each heat while Monroe did so within half a second at home.
The Warriors broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third on a one-out suicide bunt attempt by Gary Pilgrim. That allowed Josue Gutierrez, who doubled to start the inning, to come home and score.
Ray Perez, who was hit by a pitch and then stole second, advanced to third on the pitch to first; The pilgrim was safe. Perez then attempted to head home but was kicked off the flat, only keeping a 1-0 lead for Woodhaven.
After going down the order in third, Monroe answered with a deuce in fourth on a two-run single from Breylon Richards. The Trojans never looked back, as they added an insurance run in the fifth on an RBI brace from Owen Yount.
Woodhaven got runners in the fifth and sixth innings but left them stranded, with some of the five total remaining on base for the Warriors. The aforementioned Perez pitched all six innings for the locals, scattering five hits and two walks, while striking out seven.
Perez in the end was beaten by Sieler of Monroe, who allowed just one run on three hits and a walk, stoking six Warrior batters.
“I think (round four) is an example of overcoming adversity,” Farner said. “I thought (Ray) was throwing really well and hitting his points when he needed them. Some were called strikes, some weren’t, but you just have to fight.
“His career has been amazing here,” added Farner. “He’s always given us a chance to win a game when he’s on the mound. And as a team coach, you know when you have a guy like him pitching, you’re going to have a chance.”
Wednesday’s game marked the fourth straight season that Monroe and Woodhaven have met in the state tournament. The Warriors have won each of the previous three meetings, all of which have come in the District Round, including a 6-4 victory over the Trojans in the District Finals a season ago.
“We talked about the standards we have as a program all the time,” Farner said. “It doesn’t really matter who we play against, it’s important to uphold our standards and achieve them on a daily basis.
“I think that helps us in games like this where it’s tight and there’s pressure,” Farner added. “Usually we’re on the other side, but sometimes, like today, you find yourself in situations where you can’t get over a two-run deficit with a good pitcher (opponent) on the mound.”
In addition to Pilgrim’s base hit and Gutierrez’s brace, Woodhaven got a brace from Evan Langlois, who, along with Pilgrim, also reached base via Monroe’s fielding errors. The only other base runner for the Warriors was a walk awarded to Drew Thorning to lead the fifth.
Monroe has qualified for the D1 regional final round, which takes place on June 11 at Borden Field in Coldwater, the Trojans will face Ann Arbor Skyline or Battle Creek Lakeview.
For Woodhaven, this capped off another great year for the program. The Warriors, who have been ranked among D1’s top teams all season, won their sixth Downriver League title in the past seven years and won a fourth consecutive district championship.
It was mostly a bittersweet post-game for Farner, whose side finished the season ranked 8th in Division 1 by the Coaches Association. Farner spoke enthusiastically about the senior class, led by Perez, which has placed Warrior baseball among the best in the state in recent years.
“I’m absolutely proud of our team for the way they competed,” said Farner. “They lived up to our standards today as they have most of the time. I wanted to congratulate our seniors, it’s an incredible group that we’ve had here for four years. Their leadership has been incredible.
“I told our underclassmen to reflect on this moment and use it as motivation during the offseason to get better,” Farner continued. “I hope we have another chance next year.”