High School Sports

Key to a Dodgers comeback in epic World Series could be Ardrey Kell alum Alex Wood

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, who graduated from Ardrey Kell High School, threw a gem in Game 4 of the World Series and will likely pitch in Game 7 if it happens.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, who graduated from Ardrey Kell High School, threw a gem in Game 4 of the World Series and will likely pitch in Game 7 if it happens. TNS

Lost in the craziness of Game 5 of the World Series, when you look past the ridiculous home runs (really, George Stricker?) and all the lead changes and the drama of it all, is this: There’s more baseball left to be played.

In fact, we could get two more games in what has shaped up to be one of the most epic World Series ever. The Houston Astros lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2, meaning the Astros could clinch the series – and their first World Series championship – Tuesday night in Game 6. But with the way this series has gone so far, does anyone really believe we won’t see a Game 7?

And if we do (and again, the way things are going, who thinks we won’t?), then all of Charlotte should tune in to watch one of its native sons, Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, take the mound.

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Alex Wood starred at Ardrey Kell before signing with Georgia and eventually being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2012. ROBERT LAHSER ROBERT LAHSER - rlahser@charlott

Long before this World Series, Wood led Ardrey Kell to the 2009 4A state championship and was also named North Carolina’s 4A Player of the Year for 2009. He was 10-2 his senior year with a 0.87 ERA. That success propelled him to Georgia, where he starred before eventually being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2012. After being called up to the majors in 2013, Wood was traded to the Dodgers in 2015.

And while Wood has been in the majors for a few years now, this season has been by far his best as a pro. In the regular season he went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He was also named National League pitcher of the month in May and named to the All-Star team.

But for as good as Wood was during the regular season, there were doubts about how he would perform during the postseason. Namely, could he keep up his velocity, which had been dropping on his signature slider in the second half of the season?

In his postseason debut against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, that answer was no. Wood allowed thee earned runs in a 3-2 loss to the Cubs, all of them homers. That was the only game of the series that the Dodgers lost.

Then in his World Series debut in Game 4, Wood was an entirely different pitcher. He threw 5 2/3 innings and only allowed one earned run, a homer to Springer. He had good control all night, which is especially important considering his penchant for throwing high. The Dodgers won 6-2 to tie the series at two games apiece, before the Astros won an insane 13-12 game on Sunday night to take the series lead.

Rich Hill is projected to start for the Dodgers in Game 6, with Justin Verlander taking the mound for the Astros. The series shifts back to Los Angeles, too.

If Hill and the Dodgers can stave off the Astros for one more game, then Wood will likely get the pivotal start in Game 7. World Series on the line, millions of people watching, and a local guy from Charlotte will be at the center of it all. And if he can produce like he did in Game 4, he’ll have helped seal an epic World Series comeback for the Dodgers.

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @brendanrmarks

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