It's a common theme for Northeast Ohio high school baseball: The best way to get games in early in the season is to head south.
Woodridge baseball did just that to open the season, taking a brief spring break trip to Southwest Ohio.
The Bulldogs managed to split their games on the road trip. On March 27 at Athletes in Action Field in Xenia, the Bulldogs dominated a familiar foe, beating Kent Roosevelt 9-1.
Then on March 28 at Wright State University's Nischwitz Stadium, Woodridge played well, but dropped a 3-1 loss to Fairborn.
The Bulldogs' record stood at 1-1 at press time.
"It was a good trip. We got a lot accomplished," said Woodridge coach Dennis Dever. "We did a lot of things as a team to get some team unity and camaraderie.
"I'm happy with the way we played," he added. "We came away with a split. We could have been 2-0, but I'll take 1-1."
Against Kent Roosevelt, Dever sent freshman left-hander Carson Murphy to the mound. Murphy (1-0) picked up the win in his first high school start, allowing no runs and just one hit in five innings of work, walking five batters and striking out four.
"He pitched a heck of a ballgame," Dever said. "His fastball was really on."
Sophomore Jarret Martin then allowed one earned run off one hit with three strikeouts in two innings of relief.
"We got excellent pitching out of those two youngsters," Dever said. "We banged out 10 hits and we're putting the ball in play well. We only struck out one time in seven innings."
Martin helped the Bulldogs on offense, going 3-of-4 with three singles and a run scored, while senior shortstop Preston Clark added a single, a double, two runs, two stolen bases and an RBI.
Senior David Graham added two singles, two RBIs and a run, while junior David Massey had a single, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs.
"We just kind of chipped away at them, scoring just one or two runs an inning," Dever said. "We had some really good at bats from people who had not looked good in the preseason."
Dever said Fairborn presented a good test to the Bulldogs.
"They're really good," Dever said. "They had 12 seniors back on an 18-8 team from last year and had seven starters back. We outplayed them. We just couldn't get the big hit."
Junior Zane Patterson pitched a complete game for the Bulldogs, giving up three unearned runs off five hits with one strikeout and two walks.
"We misplayed a ball to start the game and it cost us two runs," Dever said. "We had an error in the second which cost us a run. After that, we played clean defense. We had been playing really good defense all weekend."
Woodridge's lone run came in the top of the third inning. Center fielder Jacob Margroff singled and stole second. Massey then singled and Clark hit an RBI single to make it 3-1.
That would be it for the Bulldogs, however, as Woodridge left 12 men on base.
Dever said Woodridge banged out six hits and "five really loud outs" off Fairborn starter Jay Fields, but could not get the clutch hit.
"They're a very good defensive team," Dever said.
Clark went 3-of-4 with an RBI and a stolen base, while Patterson added two singles and Margroff had two singles, a run and a stolen base.
Woodridge was set to host St. Vincent-St. Mary March 30, before traveling to Twinsburg for a doubleheader April 1, but results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs open Portage Trail Conference Metro Division play this week, hosting Ravenna April 3 at 4:30 p.m. before traveling to Ravenna April 4 at 4:30 p.m. Woodridge will then host backyard rival Walsh Jesuit April 6 at 4:30 p.m.