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St. Elizabeth bats around twice, defeats Woodbridge in DIAA baseball tournament opener: Photo gallery

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St. Elizabeth's Nate Schurga reacts after driving in two runs.

WILMINGTON — St. Elizabeth did all of its offensive damage in two innings, and two pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts as the No. 29 Vikings defeated No. 36 Woodbridge, 9-1, in the play-in round of the 2021 DIAA state baseball tournament May 18 at Canby Park. The Vikings advance to the first round on Thursday.

After going down in order against Blue Raiders starter Seth Smart, the Vikings’ bats warmed up in the second. Nate Schurga and Andrew Spychalski walked and singled, respectively, to open the inning, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Both scored on a single down the left field line by Robert Falcone. With one out, James Garrett walked, but Smart got the second out on a popup. The runners executed a double steal, and the Vikings’ Jaden Dickerson drove them home with a line single to left-center off relief pitcher Derek Cannon.

The Blue Raiders got one of those back in their half of the third. With two outs, Smart smashed a triple to deep right-center. He ran through the stop sign at third, and when he finally slammed on the brakes, he lost his footing as the throw arrived at third. It handcuffed the fielder, however, and Smart dove headfirst into the plate.

Cannon got through the third and fourth innings with the help of two pickoffs, plus an unusual short-to-third-to second double play. He would not be as fortunate in the fifth.

The St. Elizabeth offense got started with one out with a double by Nate Beringer. Matt Trout reached on an error, and Nate Schurga brought both in with a double down the right-field line. Schurga took third on the throw. He scored two batters later on a Falcone single. Eric O’Neill hit into a fielder’s choice, followed by a Garrett single that scored Spychalski. Luke Trout wrapped up the scoring by knocking O’Neill in with another base hit.

That was plenty of support for Dickerson, the starting pitcher. He threw six innings, scattering four hits and striking out seven. He also had help from his defense, particularly in the fourth. With a runner on first, Woodbridge’s William Hague walked. The next batter, Parker Short, grounded a ball through the shortstop, but Spychalski alertly fired the ball to third, where Hague was tagged out trying to advance. Schurga, the third baseman, then threw to second baseman Shawn Cintron, who tagged the incoming Short for the 7-5-4 double play.

Matt Trout came on in the seventh, and he retired the side with four strikeouts as one of the third strikes got past the catcher, and the batter reached first.

Falcone had two hits, a run scored and three RBI, while Spychalski had two hits and two runs scored. Garrett also had two hits and was on base three times with a run scored. The Vikings (7-12) will travel to No. 4 Tower Hill on Thursday for a 4 p.m. first pitch.

Smart had two hits and was on base three times for the Blue Raiders. Woodbridge, who won five of its last seven regular-season contests, finished the year 6-13.

All photos by Mike Lang.