ELIZABETH, NJ - Having tied the season series at one game apiece just five days earlier, Westfield again took the field against their rivals, and neighbors, Scotch Plains on Sunday for the semifinals of the Union County Tournament at Williams Field in Elizabeth.
Turning to ace pitcher Kevin Galasso, third-seeded Westfield looked to upset the second seeded Raiders and take the lead in their season series.
Galasso delivered for the Blue Devils, throwing a two-hitter through the first six innings of the game and leaving the game with just one out left to record.
“Whenever we play Scotch Plains, I know it’s going to be a good game,” said Galasso, who’s performance on Sunday avenged his loss against Scotch Plains earlier in the season.
Having gathered a run of support in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Eric Demers that scored Chris Arena, Galasso was able to dominate early, striking out all three batters he faced in the bottom of the second en route to seven strikeouts, tying his high mark for the season.
The Blue Devils scored again in the top of the fourth on a hit to left center field by Demers that brought in second basemen Tyler Bowman. However, a relay from left field started by Kevin Raszka was able to help the Raiders peg Demers out at third base, stopping a potential rally from ensuing.
Scotch Plains failed to test Westfield’s ace until the bottom of the fourth inning, when senior James D’Angelo led off with a double to left field. Galasso was able to work out of trouble in large part due to two strikeouts against Kevin Raszka and Matt Marino, both of whom Galasso had also taken down in the second inning.
“I had to change up my looks to help keep James from taking third. Mentally, all I focus on is the pitch at hand; I never try to worry about what may happen in the next pitch or the next at bat,” said Galasso of his fourth inning performance.
The Blue Devils opened the gates with a two-RBI triple from right fielder Liam Devin in the top of the fifth inning that pushed the score to 4-0. The triple came off Chris Ciccarino, who relieved Scotch Plains starter Christian Isolda two batters earlier.
“I needed to hit the ball hard somewhere and the pitcher [Ciccarino] gave me a fastball down the middle. We had momentum but needed a sort of nail in the coffin, and I was able to get a good piece of the ball to bring both runners home,” said Devin.
Westfield added two more in the sixth, expanding the lead to 6-0 as Scotch Plains’ time for a comeback continued to dwindle. Unwilling to be shutout, the Raiders rallied in the bottom of the seventh, eventually knocking Galasso out of the game. Senior Quinn Dursee came in for the Blue Devils, recording the final out after succumbing three runs to the Raiders.
“Quinn has been great out of the bullpen so far this season. Having thrown 110 pitches, a little over what I would have liked to finish with, I was definitely frustrated that I could not finish out the game, but I trust Quinn the most to close things out for us,” said Galasso, who was credited with all four of the Raiders’ runs along with the win for Westfield.
Holding on for the 6-4 victory over Scotch Plains, Westfield will advance to play top-seeded Cranford in the Union County Finals on Saturday at Kean University.