WOODSTOCK — Woodstock had the offense in Game 1, but it had to settle for a pitchers’ duel in Game 2 of Thursday’s doubleheader with Collins Hill in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs.
The Wolverines beat the Eagles 7-5 and 3-0 to advance to the next week’s second round, where they will host the winner of South Forsyth and Dunwoody.
Two doubles from senior catcher Christian Preiser gave the Wolverines the momentum offensively in Game 1, while senior pitcher Blake Aita’s two-hit shutout in Game 2 got the best of the Eagles.
Woodstock coach Jeff Brown said he is excited for what’s to come, mainly because of his team’s playoff experience.
Several starters from the 2019 team that lost to Hillgrove in the second round are playing this year, which he thinks is a benefit.
“We’re one of the few teams with actual playoff experience,” Brown said. “The moment is not too big for them.”
Preiser’s double kicked off the start of Game 1 in the bottom of the first, which later resulted in a run after senior Griffin Peck singled.
In the top of the fifth, Collins Hill junior Colin Livingston hit a ground-rule double that drove in two runs to give the Eagles a 4-1 lead.
Woodstock, however, responded in the bottom of the fifth. Presier doubled again to drive in two runs and the Wolverines added four more to take the lead for good.
“He did an awesome job,” Brown said of Preiser. “I felt like last year those were (just) bloops over the first baseman’s head, and he’s getting a little more confidence and he’s been hitting really well lately.”
The hot hitting carried over into the first inning of Game 2, where Woodstock picked up three runs off a pair of hits from Preston Gunnell and Lawton Bowers.
From there, Collins Hill junior pitcher Sam Horn dug in and struck out 10. On the other side, Aita held his own, striking out five.
“It was good to see our guys ready early in the game,” Brown said. (Those three runs) in the first were huge. That just gives us a little more confidence, especially with Blake on the mound, with (those three runs), we have a really good shot to win the baseball game.”
Brown is hoping the experience and good run of late signals a deep playoff run for the Wolverines.
“We’ve been there before,” Brown said. “I think that gives us a little more confidence.”