Woodland senior Bailey Ward pitches against East Paulding during Wednesday’s home game. RANDY PARKER/THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWSPosted Wednesday, April 10, 2019 STAFF REPORT

The Woodland baseball team saw its flickering playoff hopes completely extinguished with a 5-0 loss to East Paulding on Wednesday at home.

Bailey Ward pitched well enough to give the Wildcats (10-14, 6-8) hope against one of the top teams in the loaded Region 7-AAAAA. However, the Woodland offense couldn’t string together enough hits against East Paulding’s mix of solid pitching and phenomenal defense.

After a one-out walk, Drew Billings threw out the speedy Tyrell Robinson trying to steal second base to help Ward post a scoreless top of the first inning.

The Raiders (17-7, 10-2) didn’t waste a one-out walk the following inning, though. An RBI triple scored the game’s first run before an infield single and sacrifice fly pushed across the second.

In the third inning, East Paulding tacked on another run. A single and double put two runners in scoring position. A successful suicide squeeze put Woodland in a 3-0 hole.

A wild pitch with the bases loaded handed the Raiders another insurance run in the fourth, while a leadoff double and a one-out single pushed home the game’s fifth run in the seventh.

Before departing prior to the seventh inning, Ward had retired seven batters in a row.

“He threw some good pitches, and they hit it,” Woodland interim head coach Mike Montgomery said. “Credit to him, because he competed and didn’t let the situation get to him. He’s been like that all year.”

Added Montgomery, “He was throwing all his pitches for strikes. When you have four pitches you can throw around the zone, you’re going to give your team a chance to win. That’s what he did.”

Offensively, the Wildcats struggled to get runners on base. Seemingly every hard-hit ball was ran down by East Paulding’s stellar outfield, and each time Woodland threatened, a groundball double play seemed to follow.

Scotty Smith led the Wildcats, finishing 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. Ward, Dallas Adams and Toby Queen all finished 1-for-3.

Multiple runners reached in the sixth and seventh innings, but a double play spoiled the first situation and a flyout to end the game eliminated the final glimmer of hope for Woodland to make a late postseason push.

“We were off balance, and we had trouble making an adjustment,” Montgomery said. “But credit their guys, they were throwing their pitches for strikes. They made plays when we hit it at them. They put it in play and took advantage of some opportunities. That was pretty much the difference.”

With the season winding down, Montgomery is hoping to see his players end on a high note.

“We just want them to finish,” Montgomery said. “Finish for the team — seniors, juniors, sophomores, everybody. They’ve been out here since February, and everybody deserves 100% effort to finish the season.”