West Springfield standout Bobby Wahl had pitched five no-hit innings when he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the fifth. Behind in the count 1-2, the senior belted the next offering over the 360-foot sign in center field for a two-run homer at Lake Braddock Secondary School.
Wahl rounded first base with his hand in the air, having just given the Spartans an 11-0 lead over Woodson in the Northern Region baseball final. What he also did, was end his chance of throwing his first high school no-hitter.
"As soon as his home run ball sailed over the fence, I told [relief pitcher] J.T. [Williamson] he was going in," West Springfield head coach John James said. "I didn’t wrestle with that decision at all. It was a little bit of a roll of the dice, I know, because Woodson is capable of erupting … but I like our chances of holding them under 11 runs having to get six outs."
Wahl had pitched 16 1/3 innings during the eight-day regional tournament and James wanted to rest the star right-hander. While Wahl didn’t get a shot at a no-hitter, he "settled" for a second straight regional title.
West Springfield repeated as region champs with a 14-7 victory over Woodson on June 4. Trailing 11-0, the Cavaliers crept back into the game after Wahl was pulled, scoring six runs in the sixth inning, but the Spartans held on.
"I looked in the fifth inning at the scoreboard when I came and sat down because James said I might not go back in," Wahl said. "I looked at the scoreboard and saw I had no hits, and I was kind of frustrated that they took me out. But [James is] the man, he’s the big man, he makes the calls, he makes the shots and I’ve got to respect his decision. It worked. We pulled it out, and we won the game and that’s all that really matters to me."
West Springfield broke a scoreless tie with six runs in the bottom of the third inning. First baseman Charlie Morgan, the region Player of the Year, started the outburst with a double that one-hopped the fence in center field. After an intentional walk to Wahl, Daniel Allen hit a two-run single, Garrett Wooddell belted an RBI double and Trevor Snook connected for a two-run double. Nick Stevens also drove in a run. That was all the support Wahl needed.
West Springfield scored five runs in the fifth, capped by Wahl’s homer.
"I haven’t been hitting the ball real well," he said. Woodson’s Joe "McGillicuddy is a great pitcher. He threw a great pitch — slider low and away — and I just timed it right and got a good piece of the bat on it and it just went out."
Last season, the Spartans entered the regional tournament as Patriot District champions. This year, West Springfield lost to Lake Braddock in the district tournament.
"We didn’t win the district like we did last year," Morgan said, "but I think it feels sweeter because we didn’t win the district."