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West Springfield Wins State with Team Effort

Spartans pound 10 hits, Wahl earns victory on mound.

Seniors Bobby Wahl and Charlie Morgan carried the West Springfield baseball team to the brink of a title. So it was fitting when Wahl, pitching in his seventh consecutive contest, fielded a comebacker and threw over to Morgan at first base for the final out of the state championship game.

Wahl fell to his back in jubilation as Morgan clutched the ball in his glove. But on a day when many Spartans contributed to a lopsided win, it was also fitting the celebration continued in true team fashion — on-field piles and crowded trophy touching.

Seven different Spartans recorded at least one hit or RBI as West Springfield knocked off previously unbeaten Woodbridge 10-2 on July 12 at Westfield High School. While Wahl limited the Vikings to six hits over seven innings, the Spartans lineup gave him plenty of support. With the game tied 1-1, West Springfield took control with three runs in the third and five in the fourth.

Wahl helped himself, finishing with three hits and three RBIs, but he had plenty of help. Aaron Self collected three hits and Garrett Wooddell, Kyle Snyder and Daniel Allen each had two RBIs. The team pounded 10 hits.

"It’s a feeling [that is] indescribable," Self said after the game. "I’ve never been so happy. It’s like no worries right now. … One through nine our approach is just see the ball, hit the ball. Nothing really to it. Hitting is just a mindset, and if you have the mindset, it doesn’t really matter who’s pitching on the mound."

Wahl didn’t have his best stuff on the mound. Although he walked six during the 116-pitch complete game, he had more than enough to get past the Vikings. The Ole Miss-bound Wahl struck out seven, including twice getting all-state sophomore first baseman Tyler Thomas to whiff with the bases loaded and two outs.

The outing culminated a stretch in which Wahl appeared in all four region games and all three state contests, though he faced only one batter in two of those appearances.

"I’m sure he was a little tired," West Springfield head coach John James said, "but this is what he’s been working for all year long and there was no chance he was going to go down without a fight."

Afterward, Wahl said his arm felt fine but figured it would be sore later on.

"I’ve dreamt about winning the state championship, falling on the mound and everything," he said, "but nothing compares" to the experience.

The state title was the Spartans’ first since 1998.

"It’s nice to get [the program] back on top," James said.

One day earlier, Morgan helped put the Spartans in a position to win it all with a dual-threat performance in a 3-2 semifinal win over Western Branch. On the mound, the Wake Forrest-bound senior did not allow an earned run over 6 2/3 innings before giving way to Wahl for the final out. At the plate, he provided the Spartans’ only offense when he belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The ball sailed well over the wall in right-center and helped West Springfield overcome a 1-0 deficit.

"Honestly, I don’t know what to say about him anymore," Wahl said of Morgan. "He’s unreal. He is the man when it comes to hitting. I think [the home run is] still going. That ball was just crushed."