Sometimes, it pays to finish second.
Woodland won the Region 6-AA baseball championship and Bishop England finished second. As a result, Woodland was placed in District 6 for the playoffs while the Bishops were placed in District 5. Both teams won their districts, but the Bishops caught a big break because it was predetermined the District 5 winner would host an opening-round game of the Lower State championship series.
The Bishops used that homefield advantage to gain a 4-1 victory over Woodland, which had to travel on its prom night. The Bishops upped their record to 20-4 and will host Loris at Father Kelly Field on Monday night. Loris advanced with a 4-3 victory over Dillon. Dillon travels to Woodland on Monday night in an elimination game.
“I think it is pretty big to have the homefield advantage,” Bishop England coach Mike Darnell said. “It usually is. But with this group, it’s hard to tell. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure them out.”
The Bishops continue to get outstanding pitching, although they allowed their first earned run in four playoff games. Right-hander Tradd Lowman upped his record to 6-0 with a three-hitter as the Bishops continued their quest to win their sixth state title in 11 years.
“Tradd pitched very well today,” Darnell said. “His release point was very effective. He’s a very good high school pitcher who can get the outs when he needs to.”
The Bishops collected six hits off Mike Delee, who lost his first game of the season and had his seven-game winning streak snapped.
The Bishops took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Harrison Boals belted an RBI single.
The Wolverines tied the score in the top of the fourth when Seth Patrick led off with a double down the left-field line, went to third on Drake Knight’s sacrifice bunt and scored on an error.
The Bishops regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Zack Madden’s RBI single.
The Bishops closed out the scoring with two runs in the sixth. Lowman doubled and scored when Griffin Herbert’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed for a three-base error. Herbert scored on Kyle Wicks’ sacrifice fly.
The Bishops lost a 5-4 decision to Woodland in the regular season that cost them the region title. The Bishops gave up three unearned runs in that game.
“It was sort of a blah game today,” Darnell said. “It’s almost just the opposite of the game we lost. We made some mistakes and helped them score runs. They did the same thing today.”
Woodland 000 100 0 —1 3 1
Bishop England 100 012 x —4 6 2
WP—Lowman, 6-0. LP—Delee, 7-1. Records: Bishop England, 20-4; Woodland, 17-6.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil