by Michael LeonardSports EditorAt the beginning of the season, Woodridge coach Dennis Dever acknowledged he needed some of his young guns to step up if Woodridge looked to repeat last year's achievements."I think we definitely had the talent to win the district title, but that doesn't happen every year," Dever said. "This group was definitely capable of doing it. They set their goals high and they've achieved most of them so far."Portage Trail Conference County Division title? Check.Division III district title? Check.Eye toward Division III state title? Check.Woodridge claimed its second straight district title thanks to two very different games. On May 17, the Bulldogs survived a slugfest with Youngstown Cardinal Mooney 11-8 in eight innings in the district semifinal. On May 18, Woodridge dominated East Palestine 10-0 in five innings in the district final. Both games were played at Cene Park in Struthers.With the wins, Woodridge advanced to the Division III regional final May 24 against Youngstown Ursuline (see story on Page 52). In a warm-up game May 22, Woodridge won 8-6 at Medina Highland.Prior to the regional game, Woodridge's record stood at 27-2 on the season, establishing a new school record for wins. According to Dever, Mooney was as good as he thought they would be and beating them was "quite an accomplishment." Woodridge ace Dave Krusinski got the ball against Mooney, but struggled for his second straight start."He struggled with throwing strikes again," Dever said of Krusinski. "When he got in trouble and had to throw strikes down the middle, they put the ball in play hard. Right now, he just needs to regain the consistency in his delivery."Krusinski lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on four hits with four strikeouts and four walks. Nick Jones came on in relief and pitched 4 2/3 innings giving up three runs on two hits and six walks. Jones struck out eight Cardinals and got the win to improve to 5-1 on the seasonWith their pitching not having its best day, the Bulldogs' offense compensated by banging out 15 hits. Krusinski made up for his lackluster start by hitting three singles and 2 RBIs. Shortstop Allen James was "a machine" according to Dever, nailing three doubles, a single, 2 RBIs and three runs scored. Left fielder Fred Guerra had two doubles and three RBIs, while first baseman Joe Lewandowski had a single, a triple and 2 RBIs.With the game tied at eight in the fifth inning, the two teams remained scoreless until the top of the eight, which Dever called "a thing of beauty."Dever pinch hit Anthony Westren for second baseman Joe Painter and Westren singled up the middle. James then singled. Dever then pinch hit Derek Morgan for Guerra because Morgan was a better bunter. Morgan did his job, laying down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over.After Jones drew an intentional walk, catcher Mike DeBord hit a sacrifice fly to score Westren. Krusinski then provided some insurance with a two-run single. Jordan Wilhite then slammed the door in the bottom of the eight, retiring the Cardinals 1-2-3 to earn his second save.That eighth inning was a prelude to a dominant performance by Wilhite against East Palestine."Jordan was absolutely in a zone," Dever said. "Everything he threw was in the strike zone. They hit one ball hard the whole game."Wilhite went five innings allowing just two hits, no walks and striking out six. The win improved Wilhite's record to 8-1, establishing a new school record for most wins in a season.With Wilhite dealing, Woodridge's offense exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.On offense, Guerra had two singles, a triple and 3 RBIs; Lewandowski had two doubles and three RBIs; and DeBord had a single, a double and two RBIs."It just went our way that day," Dever said. "We happened to be the better team and we played like it."Against Highland, Dever made sure most of his staff put work in as Westren, Jones, Andy Fay, Wilhite and Lewandowski all pitched. Lewandowski pitched the sixth and seventh innings to earn his first win.Woodridge trailed 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh before rallying for four runs. Dever said Jones and Krusinski each had key hits for the Bulldogs before Lewandowski belted a three-run triple to give Woodridge the lead. DeBord blasted his third home run of the season and had two RBIs.E-mail: mleonard@recordpub.comPhone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3113