WESTFIELD - Westfield (16-1) removed a very large thorn from its side Wednesday as the Wolverines finally avenged years worth of heartache at the hands of the No. 6 Frewsburg Bears (12-9) with their 12-3 win during Section 6 Class C quarterfinal baseball action.
"Let's put it this way, my bucket list just got shorter," Westfield head coach Doug Kaltenbach said. "Over the years I have (earned) five red patches and all of them are from Frewsburg. We've never beaten them in the sectionals. This is big for us and a lot of kids that had played here before."
The red patches Kaltenbach was referring to were awarded for finishing second to the Bears in the sectional title game. The Wolverines, the third seed, saw to it that their run of futility against one of the area's best - if not the best - baseball programs came to an end.
Frewsburg shortstop Brett Johnson fires to first base in the Bears’ Class C quarterfinal at Westfield.
Photo by Roger Coda
"It's huge," Kaltenbach said of the win. "Jon (Coe) is a three-year starter for me and he understands. And I think that was good for us because these younger guys didn't understand. They didn't have the feel for what had happened before. They didn't have that burden."
Westfield got to work early as they scored five runs in the bottom of the first on four hits and two Frewsburg errors.
"The first five pitches we were looking at two outs and nobody on base," Frewsburg head coach Jay Grann said. "We threw two balls away and that's where they took their energy and ran away with it. Maybe it's 0-0 if we make two plays. It's tough to look back at. Give (Westfield) the credit. They put the runs on the board and we didn't."
Brandon Johnston and Travis Rammelt reached on consecutive errors to start the frame before Cameron Wright delivered an RBI single for the Wolverines' first run. Rammelt stole home for Westfield's second run while Nolan Hunt chased home Wright with a suicide squeeze for a 3-0 lead. Coe kept the inning going with a solo home run to left before Rob Burgess singled with two outs and scored on a Joe Quagliana RBI single.
"They had a guy on second with no outs and we got out of it," Kaltenbach said. "That was huge. To me, it was like deja vu how (Frewsburg) gets rolling. So, for us to get out of it and have the tables flipped where they make the errors, I think it put my guys back a little bit and they saw that (Frewsburg) was human. It was huge."
The five runs were all Hunt would need as he allowed three runs on six hits, struck out six and hit a batter.
"It's the first year I've coached him," Kaltenbach said of his sophomore southpaw. "But throughout the year he has grown, I think, so much emotionally and mentally, from when he first started off."
Hunt got the Bears in order in the second while Westfield added its sixth run in their half of the frame as Hunt helped his own cause with an RBI single.
Hunt finished 2 for 3, including a triple, and drove in three runs, but it was on the mound where he contributed the most.
"In my opinion he's the most valuable player," Kaltenbach said of Hunt. "Throughout the year, more and more, he has gone to his off-speed pitch. At the beginning of the year he tried pounding it by everybody, but that's being young. He's young and strong and he throws hard."
The Wolverines added two more runs in the fifth on an RBI triple by Hunt and an RBI single by Coe, before plating their final four runs in the sixth. Rob Burgess had a two-run single, Wright had an RBI double and Dan Tofil earned an RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
"I think it was more about (our) energy level," Grann added. "We didn't really come out from the get-go. (Hunt) was able to gain some momentum and he made some nice pitches. But it was more of an energy thing. They had it and we didn't."
Frewsburg scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but by then, Westfield had the commanding lead it had been waiting a long time to take.
"I'm sure they wanted to knock us off just as much as we wanted to get them," Grann said. "That's the way things go sometimes. The team with the momentum carries it on and wins the game."
Tage Johnson had an RBI single in the fifth while Brett Johnson and Bryce Peterson had solo home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
"We started three freshman this year and our general lineup has two sophomores in it," Grann said. "The rest are juniors so we'll return a lot (next year) and get back to playing more Frewsburg baseball next season."
Trevor Spicer suffered the loss on the hill, allowing eight runs (one earned) on eight hits over four innings of work. He struck out six and walked one.
"I think he pitched fine," Grann said of his starter. "At the beginning, we didn't make any plays for him. He's been a workhorse for us, he throws the ball well, we just didn't play defense behind him early. In those middle innings he kind of took over himself, got some strikeouts and that gave him some confidence."
Westfield will travel to take on No. 2 da Vinci on Friday in Buffalo at 5 p.m. The Dragons beat Maple Grove, 7-2, Wednesday to advance to the semifinals.
NOTES: The Wolverines scored their 12 runs on 13 hits while stealing six bases. ... Wright finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. ... Coe went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. ... Peterson went 3 for 4, including a home run and a stolen base.