WESTFIELD, NJ — It was all knotted up at 2-2 between the Westfield Blue Devils and Arthur L. Johnson (Clark) Crusaders varsity baseball teams going into the top of the sixth inning late Thursday afternoon. But with solid hitting and a few Westfield errors, Clark was able to break the game wide-open, winning by a final score of 8-2.
“I thought we played real well,” Johnson head coach David Kennedy said. “We beat a really good baseball team, Westfield. They’re a team that’s pretty much handled us for the time I’ve been coaching here.”
The game started to go downhill for the Blue Devils in the top of the sixth. Danny DoCampo’s error placed Johnson runners on first and third, which allowed a sacrifice fly to score a run on the next at bat, making it 3-2 Crusaders.
A passed ball that moved the runners to second and third followed by an error on first baseman Mike Tivenan allowed another run to score making the score 4-2.
In the top of the seventh, a wild pitch moved runners to second and third once again. Two straight walks made the score 5-2. A passed ball allowed another run to score and a RBI single by Mike Lesniewski made the game 7-2. Johnson added one more run on a sac fly. A 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh capped off the Crusaders’ victory.
“We did not play very well at all today. It was not a good performance,” Westfield head coach Bob Brewster said. “I thought it was just a poor effort by our team.”
Westfield had some bright spots, including Ben Herbster pitching a solid first five innings and only allowing four runs total. Johnson’s Wes Giannoble also pitched a great game, holding Westfield to only two runs.
On the offensive side, the Crusader’s Steven Weisensee went 2-3 with two doubles and Westfield’s Chris Rinaldi went 2-3 with two singles. Also for Westfield, Mike Tivenan went 1-3 with a single and two RBIs.
“We need a lot of work. We need to examine a lot of different things that we’re doing wrong and try to improve on them,” Brewster said. “It could start from anywhere — pitching, catching, infield play, outfield play. We just did not play well today at all.”
“I think we can improve anywhere,” Kennedy commented. “Base running wasn’t really great today, but it wasn’t awful, even though we got picked off twice. Offensively, we struck out a lot today although that had more to do with the pitching than anything else. But we need to put the ball in play a little more. Defensively, we were pretty good, but you can always get better.”
Westfield (1-7) will take on John F. Kennedy Memorial High School (Woodbridge) on the road on April 17 at 4 p.m. Johnson (6-3) will play Linden in Linden on April 21 at 4 p.m.
Eric Storms is a sophomore at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.