WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, then held off a last-gasp rally in the seventh to defeat Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 6-4, in the semifinal round of the Section 2, Group 4 baseball tournament on Tuesday.
Westfield (17-9) advances to the sectional final, where the top-seeded Blue Devils will host second-seeded Millburn on Friday. Millburn is the defending Group 4 state champion.
Westfield and Scotch-Plains Fanwood had split two regular-season meetings this season.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (16-11) had scored two runs in the top of the fifth on Michael Dieu's two-run single to take a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Jack Cifelli opened the inning with his second walk of the game. He stole second and took third on a one-out wild pitch as Matt McIntyre drew a walk and stole second base. Andrew Caminiti followed with a single to center, tying the game, 2-2.
Left-handed hitting Chris Wagner followed with a single to right field to give Westfield a 3-2 lead. He stole second and, after Jake Vall-Llobera was intentionally walked, Jake Lerie came through with a two-run single to left field, giving the Blue Devils a 5-2 lead.
McIntyre added an RBI single in the sixth, scoring Ben Cappiello, who was hit by a pitch as a pinch-hitter and stole second base. Westfield stole seven bases in the game.
Westfield had scored an unearned run in the second inning, with Mike Knapp delivering the sacrifice fly to break the 0-0 deadlock.
Right-hander Mike Carlone (6-2) gave Westfield six strong innings on the mound before left-hander Cory Hiltz — Friday's probable starter — came on in the seventh to finish the game.
Carlone allowed six hits in six-plus innings, three runs (two earned), he struck out seven and did not walk a batter. Scotch Plains-Fanwood scored two runs in its final at-bat, one charged to Carlone, the other to Hiltz, who got the last out on a dying quail to center that was snagged by Steve Barden with runners on first and second.
A spectacular defensive play got Westfield out of a jam in the fourth inning. With runners at first and second, two out and the Blue Devils leading, 1-0, the Raiders' Anthony DiNizo rifled a line drive toward the middle, but shortstop Caminiti dove to snatch the liner out of the air and quell the SPF threat.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood (16-11) 000 020 2 -- 4 9 1
Westfield (17-9) 010 041 x -- 6 6 1