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Early lead propels Woodstock North

HARVARD – The Woodstock North baseball team conquered its Achilles’ heel, while Harvard fell victim to its.

The fifth-seeded Thunder defeated the fourth-seeded Hornets, 8-6, on Monday in a Class 3A Woodstock Regional quarterfinal.

Woodstock North (4-20) scored early, while the Hornets (6-20) struggled with timely hitting. Harvard put up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Thunder were able to close out the game.

The Thunder got on the board early, scoring their first run with the first three batters. Shane Zieman’s single down the third-base line stayed just fair, Jake Schnulle advanced Zieman on a bunt and Julian Zack drove in Zieman on a single to right field.

Two innings later, Zieman doubled to right, advancing Tyler Roemisch to third. Zack’s single to left scored both Zieman and Roemisch.

“It’s huge for us, getting ourselves up early,” Thunder coach Ian Rago said. “We really struggle coming back. I think we did a good job dictating what we wanted to do.”

Carter Vepley was able to keep the Hornets’ bats in check, earning the win with two earned runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts in five innings. The Hornets loaded the bases with one out in the bottom third and bottom fourth inning, but Vepley only allowed two runs to score.

Tate Miller reached base on an error for the Hornets to load the bases in the third, with Reiss Bielski scoring on a passed ball for Harvard’s first run. Justin Nolen grounded out into a fielder’s choice at second base to score Travis Heck, then Vepley got Logan Streit to fly out to left to close out the fourth.

“I just tried to hit my spots,” Vepley said. “I had to trust my defense and let them do their job. We held our composure and did what coach told us to do and ended up getting out of the innings.”

The Thunder blew the game open with four runs in the top of the fifth. Zack singled to start the inning, Jon Winzenried walked and Javier Lares reached on an error. A fielder’s choice scored Zack, with Jamie Huntley’s double scoring Winzenried and Lares. Roemisch singled to score Huntley one batter later.

After striking out looking in his first two at bats, Huntley found a pitch he liked and drove it.

“I wanted to be aggressive,” Huntley said. “I felt it go right up the middle and saw everyone hustling around the bases.”

Zack and Zieman both went 4 for 4 for the Thunder, with Zack driving in three runs and Zieman scoring two.

After scoring one run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings, the Hornets found a chunk of runs in the sixth, scoring three.

Peyton Schneider doubled to score Logan Streit and Miller, with Schneider scoring on a balk. Schneider and Miller each went 2 for 4.

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