Centreville Westfield High baseball’s strong postseason showing at the 16-team Northern Region tournament concluded one victory shy of both an appearance in the finals and an automatic seeding for this week’s state tournament when the Bulldogs lost to Lake Braddock and ace left-handed pitcher Thomas Rogers, 8-0, last Wednesday afternoon at James Madison High School in Vienna.
With the season-ending, region semifinals playoff loss, Westfield finished the spring with an impressive 17-7 record. The Bulldogs enjoyed a successful postseason in which they reached the Concorde District tournament finals (losing to Robinson in the title game), then won their first two games at regionals – wins over Marshall and Yorktown – to advance to the semifinals. Overall, Westfield finished 3-2 in postseason play.
Lake Braddock, following the win over Westfield, lost in the region championship game to fellow Patriot District opponent West Springfield, 3-2, on Saturday, June 2 at Madison. Even so, the Bruins (23-3), by reaching the finals, automatically qualified for this week’s Virginia State AAA tournament. They were scheduled to play a state quarterfinals round game at Cosby High (Midlothian) on Tuesday, June 5 of this week.
Rogers, a senior and the Lake Braddock pitching ace, had pitched 2-2/3 scoreless innings and earned the win in the Bruins’ dramatic 6-5 extra innings region quarterfinals win over McLean on Memorial Day afternoon. And two days later, Bruins head coach Jody Rutherford started the southpaw against Westfield.
The Bulldogs, under head coach Chuck Welch, simply could not generate enough offense against Rogers, who tossed a complete game (7 innings) three-hit shutout. He struck out nine Westfield batters and walked one. At one point early on, Rogers fanned seven of eight hitters he faced from the first through third innings.
Westfield’s best scoring threats were in the top of the first and fourth innings. In the first, senior shortstop Kyle Corwin, with one out, sent a deep fly ball into right center field for a double. Rogers retired the next two Bulldog batters to end that threat. In the fourth, junior second baseman Ryan Wittman knocked a two-out double down the left field line. But Rogers got the final out off a fly ball to center field off the bat of Jake Dercole, who had singled off Rogers two innings earlier.
LAKE BRADDOCK, meanwhile, gave Rogers early support by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning and two more in the second to take a 5-0 lead and gain a stronghold on the game.
It was a tough outing for Westfield left-handed starting pitcher Wade Arduini (3 innings), a First Team All-Concorde District first baseman this spring. The senior gave his team three innings in taking the loss. Following the Bruins’ five runs over their first two innings, Arduini worked a scoreless bottom of the third inning. Westfield catcher Patrick McLauglin had the defensive highlight of that half inning, throwing out a Lake Braddock base runner attempting to steal second.
Westfield senior Bryan Drager pitched the final three innings (innings four through six) in relief, allowing three runs (2 earned) and four hits. He struck out one.
The game’s best defensive play – and one of the better plays one will ever see – came from Westfield right fielder Matt Pisarcik in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Lake Braddock’s Matt Spruill sent a scorching, opposite field rope towards the right center field gap. Pisarcki immediately bolted towards his right at full speed. The ball looked as if it would split the outfielders and go to the fence. But Pisarcki made an all-out, fully-extended dive and snagged the liner.
The play had no bearing on the game’s outcome and, in fact, the Bruins went on to score two runs in the inning. But if the Northern Region put out a season top 10 web gems list, it would be number one.
Westfield displayed some more excellent fielding in the seventh when Arduini, playing at first base, made a diving stop to his right off a hard grounder off the bat of Alex Lewis. He got up and stepped on the bag for the second out that inning.
All in all, the day belonged to Lake Braddock. But for Westfield, the playoff loss will hardly diminish another winning season with tons of good moments.