WOODBRIDGE Ah yes, the old botched intentional walk play. One of the oldest tricks in the book, but one many people do not know about. Forget the hidden-ball trick or anything like that, this is the best one by far. Here’s how it works.
First, have a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. Cruise through the first two batters and then, for dramatic effect, walk the next guy. Then throw a wild pitch to allow him to jog to second base and put the tying run in scoring position.
Next try to intentionally walk the next batter, but mess it up horribly. Throw two more wild pitches and tag the runner out when he tries to steal home on the final wild pitch. It’s risky, but it works. Just ask Woodbridge Post 364, which used it to perfection in a 8-7 victory over Euclid in the American Legion District 16
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Tournament Friday at Woodbridge High School.
Leading 8-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Woodbridge pitcher Todd Coder got Euclid centerfielder Dwight Howell to ground out to shortstop and then struck out Euclid’s Luke Dombrowsky on an outside fastball.
Needing only one more out for the victory, Coder walked Euclid catcher Matt Carrick, putting DiamondDawg clean-up hitter Alan Compton at the plate with the tying run on second.
Coder threw a wild pitch, putting Carrick on second and than decided to intentionally walk Compton. Coder air-mailed the first intentional walk pitch and allowed Carrick to take third and did the same thing on the next pitch.
The ball tipped catcher Bobby Tuttle’s glove and bounced to the backstop. Carrick ran home and Tuttle flipped the ball to Coder, who smacked Carrick with a tag a split-second before he could cross the plate to tie the game.
The botched intentional walk play at it’s best.
“It was planned,” Coder joked after the game.
“We knew it was going to be a bang-bang play,” Euclid manager Richard Dombrowsky said. “It was going to be close and they made a great play to end the game. There was really nothing we could do about it.”
Coder tagging out Carrick put an end to a wild game and a spectacular one from Coder. After pitching a complete game in Thursday night’s 5-1 loss to Loudoun Post 34, Coder relieved starter Bret Spencer with the score tied at seven and a runner on second with no outs in the eighth inning.
Coder worked out of the jam, getting Bud Martin to ground out and then striking out Sam Fullerton and Kevin Blaemire to end the threat and to keep Woodbridge in the game.
“If we were going to lose than we wanted out best guy out there,” Woodbridge manager George Meyer said. “He did pitch the game before, but told me that he could go a few innings if we needed him.”
Coder delivered on the mound in the eighth and then in the ninth at the plate. Left fielder Stevie Rodriguez led off the inning with a double that fell just out of Howell’s reach in centerfield. The speedy Rodriguez just beat the throw into second base, giving Post 364 a runner in scoring position and no outs.
First baseman Eric Kirste sacrificed Rodriguez to third and sent Coder to the plate. After fouling off two pitches, Coder, who was 1-for-4 up to that point in the game, blooped a single over a drawn in infield to centerfield to put Woodbridge ahead 8-7.
“It was lucky. I just dropped my bat out there and it hit it,” Coder said. “I wasn’t going to let us lose.”
Woodbridge now moves on in the double-elimination tournament. At 1 p.m., they play the loser of last night’s Stafford-Loudoun game that ended too late for this edition. If Woodbridge wins that game, they play later this afternoon at 4 p.m. against the winner of this morning’s Forest Park-Purcellville game.
Euclid scored two runs in the first inning with an RBI single by Carrick and an RBI groundout from right fielder Bobby Anthony. Euclid scored again in the second when starting pitcher Fred Duquette hit a sacrifice fly scoring Martin.
Woodbridge fought back in the third, scoring two runs of their own. Rodriguez drove in Tuttle with a single to right and Kirste drove in second baseman Brett Meyer with a double to left center to cut the score to 3-2.
Euclid scored again in the bottom of the third and added another run in the fifth to lead 6-2. The Diamond Dawgs scored in the seventh on an RBI single by Carrick to lead 7-4. Woodbridge scored three in the eighth, capped by a two-RBI single by right fielder Justin Carter, to tie the score at seven and then took the game in the ninth with Coder’s bloop single.
“We started off a little rough, but settled down later in the game,” said Spencer, who allowed seven runs over seven innings while striking out four. “Our bats just started to get going and we were able to get back in the game.”
Woodbridge now moves on, while Euclid goes home. The Diamond Dawgs lost to Stafford, 7-4, on Thursday in the first round of the tournament. The loss puts an end to the best season in the program’s history.
“This is the first time we ever reached the playoffs,” Dombrowsky said. “We would have liked to have done better in the tournament, but it was a lot for us to get here. The guys tried there best and did well. That’s all you can ask for.”