UNION, NJ- The Union High School Farmers varsity baseball team trailed 2-0 to the Westfield High School Blue Devils through two innings of action but found a way to get the offense going to give themselves a lead.
All it took was a span of four batters for everything to unravel for them in the bottom of the fifth inning though, as the fourth-seeded Farmers lost to the top-seeded and defending county champion Blue Devils 7-4 in the Union County Tournament Semifinals Friday night at Kean University.
Westfield scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and led 2-0 through three innings of play, before Union found a way to get back in the game with great plate discipline.
Union junior starting pitcher Mike Velez worked a leadoff walk and senior Jerry Gamone drew a walk on five pitches to put two on with no outs. Senior Anthony Farinha worked one of his own, loading the bases for the Farmers with one out.
Sophomore Gio Swanea drilled a 2-2 pitch deep into the right-center field gap for a triple, clearing the bases and giving his team the 3-2 lead. They carried the lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, before the Westfield Blue Devils came back.
Velez allowed back-to-back singles to Westfield juniors Matt McIntyre and Andrew Caminiti before being relieved by senior Brandon Bedlivey. The turning point of the game came at this part of the game. Bedlivey worked an 0-2 count on Westfield senior Jake Lerie, but on the next pitch, Gamone was called for catcher’s interference, loading the bases with no outs.
In stepped Westfield senior Chris Wagner and ahead 2-1 on the count, he cranked the pitch that came his way and sent it to deep right field and out for a grand slam, giving the Blue Devils a 6-3 lead and all the momentum suddenly right back, with still no outs in the inning.
Union battled back in the top of the seventh inning, loading the bases and getting one run, but couldn’t add anything else, as Westfield secured the outs to clinch their ticket to the next round of the Union County Tournament.
Previously, at the cutoff day with power points, the Union Farmers were the fifth seed in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 bracket and have a chance at potentially going far as the preparation for the state tournament begins, with the first round on Monday, May 21, 2018.
The Union Farmers (14-8) return home to play Kearny High School Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.
The Westfield Blue Devils (14-8) advance to the 2018 Union County Tournament Finals. They will take on third-seeded Governor Livingston Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at Kean University.