Whenever a team reaches the ''sweet 16'' of a state tournament, it is expected that the competition will be brutal.
Poland's baseball team won 21 games this year and a district championship en route to its appearance in the Division II regional semifinal.
Poland's opponents along the way have been worthy advisories, but the team the Bulldogs ran into on May 29 in Hudson was extraordinary.
Poland played 28-3 Peninusla Woodridge, a team also nicknamed Bulldogs. And despite the effort, Poland got ousted from the tournament. Woodridge edged the local kids 3-2.
After the final out was recorded, Poland head coach Rich Murray said he wish he would've known before the game that the Bulldogs would hold Woodridge to just three runs.
Coach Murray anticipated it would take more than the total put up by Woodridge to win this important contest. Alas, for one of the few times this entire season, the Poland coach guessed wrong. The reason for that misevaluation was Woodridge's Kevin Kelleher.
Kelleher basically controlled the entire contest a couple weeks ago. His single in the first inning staked his Bulldogs to a 1-0 lead. In the third inning, Kelleher capped another rally by slamming a two-out, two-run double. As Peninsula's pitcher, he then made that 3-0 advantage stand up.
The senior scattered five hits, struck out four and retired 13 of the first 15 Poland hitters.
Finally, in the sixth inning, the local Bulldogs' bats awakened. Poland's Chase Knodle led the sixth off with a sharp single. After an out was recorded, Pat Carlozzi clipped an RBI triple to get the Bulldogs on the board. Ricky Svetlak then slapped a single scoring Carlozzi to make it 3-2.
Kelleher then killed the Poland uprising and made sure the score remained 3-2 the rest of the game. The comeback attempt by Poland was admirable, but once the Bulldogs fell behind early, their coach knew it would be difficult to catch up.
Murray said that his team's offense is made up of getting consecutive hits, running the bases and forcing the opposing defense into mistakes. That was not possible against Kelleher, who induced 14 fly ball outs over the course of the contest.
While the Woodridge starting hurler was making a name for himself in this regional match, Poland's pitcher did nothing notorious to smudge his resume. Carlozzi kept up with Kelleher pitch for pitch and worked 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball before being relieved. He fanned nine Woodridge batters in his 115-pitch stint, but five walks and a hit batter gave the other Bulldogs unnecessary base runners.
Carlozzi's loss ended his season with a 7-2 record on the hill. It also ended a very successful senior season for Carlozzi and his fellow graduating mates.