Over the past three years, the Westfield High baseball team has regularly played Loudoun Valley High in early season or midseason games. Several of the games between the two non-region opponents have taken place on Valley’s home playing site at Fireman’s Field in Purcellville. It’s a gorgeous site for baseball with a small town feel and the Bulldogs and head coach Chuck Welch love to play there against the home team Vikings.
“It’s such a beautiful venue,” said Welch.
Westfield opened up its new season on a picturesque, beautiful evening at Fireman’s Field last Friday night. The Bulldogs, a part of the Northern Region and members of the Concorde District, came to play, winning their season debut 12-2 over the Vikings, who are a part of the Cedar Run District within the Northwest Region.
Westfield began the season with a breakout top of the first inning in which it scored seven runs to take control. The Bulldogs would add three more in the fourth and two in the sixth.
“We came out swinging the bats early,” said Welch, who piloted Westfield to the Concorde District tournament title last year.
Junior shortstop Kyle Corwin, who hit .425 last year for Westfield, belted a three-run home run over the center field fence to highlight the first inning fireworks.
Westfield received strong hitting games in the win from junior second baseman and leadoff hitter Austin Redman (2 hits, RBI), junior pitcher Wade Arduini (double, 2 runs, 2 walks), senior catcher Hayden Ferington (triple), junior right fielder Matt Pisarcik (double, triple, 5 RBI), and junior center fielder Danny Bulas (3 hits, 2 doubles, 2 RBI).
Westfield, which won by the 10-run mercy rule, received a good starting pitching outing from Arduini, who allowed one run and two hits over four innings with five strikeouts to earn the win. Senior Josh Luatua (3 strikeouts) and junior Bryan Drager (2 K’s) both threw well in one inning relief stints.
Welch, whose team played a solid defensive game, said Arduini, a left-hander, had a rocky first inning with two walks. But he got out of that first inning, thanks to an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play ball, without allowing a run and pitched steady from then on.
“After the first inning he settled in and had no more walks,” said Welch.
Arduini is currently tabbed as Westfield’s No. 2 starting pitcher. Aaron Hoover, also a lefty, is the top starter and was scheduled to pitch against visiting Woodbridge High, last year’s State AAA runner-up, earlier this week on Tuesday, March 22.
Westfield has a good mix of seniors and underclassmen. Five sophomores were in the starting line-up for the Bulldogs in their district tournament finals win last spring. Now, those players are seasoned juniors. Westfield has seven seniors, three who are starters, on its roster.
All-District players from last year’s team included Hoover, Corwin, Ferington, and Redman.
<b>WELCH</b> has had some strong pitching staffs in recent years. But this year’s staff, he said, is probably the best from a depth perspective. Time will tell how good the Bulldogs are on the mound this season, but it looks as if they will have a number of reliable players to utilize as starters or out of the bullpen.
“It’s awfully early,” said Welch. “I would think we’re pretty solid and as deep on the mound as we’ve ever been.”
The team’s top pitcher from last year, right-hander Danny Thorpe, graduated and is playing college baseball at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. For the Bulldogs last year, he went 11-1 with a 1.48 ERA. He was 21-2 overall during his junior and senior seasons.
“That’s hard to replace, but I like our pitching staff,” said Welch.
Westfield’s top position player lost to graduation was Aaron Scoville, an outstanding defensive third baseman who led Westfield in batting with a .522 average.
Westfield’s baseball philosophy under Welch has been to beat teams with good pitching and solid defense.
“I think if you throw strikes and play defense, you’ll be in every game,” he said.
He is quite pleased with the leadership he has received thus far from his seniors.
“They have been great leaders,” said Welch. “They worked hard in the offseason and they are fun to be around.”