UNION, NJ — It was ultimately worth the 22-hour wait for the Westfield softball team.
One night after the Blue Devils' Union County Tournament semifinal game against Cranford was washed out in the second inning and rescheduled for Wednesday evening, top-seeded Westfield erupted for five runs in the fourth inning and went on to an 8-5 victory over fourth-seeded Cranford in the semifinals.
Westfield will now seek revenge against Roselle Park, the team that beat the Blue Devils in last year's UCT championship game when the two meet in the 2019 Union County final Monday at Kean University.
Just like in Tuesday's game, which got started and then was halted in the middle of the second inning with no score, in the re-start, both teams struggled offensively at the outset. Cranford pushed across a run in the second inning and still led, 1-0, going to the bottom of the fourth.
Westfield (14-1) had defeated Cranford, 11-0, in a regular-season game, but the Blue Devils' bats took an uncharacteristic amount of time to get going before they broke through, scoring five runs in the fourth inning. The Cougars came back with two runs in the top of the fifth to cut Westfield's lead to 5-3, but the Blue Devils countered with two tallies of their own in the home half of the fifth.
Molly Stogner slammed a two-run double for Westfield and Emma Pietrewicz went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored in the victory.
“Cranford played a really strong game,” said Westfield head coach Caitlin Cheddar. "They were aggressive and battled the whole way. We struggled at the plate for the first few innings, but were able to make a couple of small adjustments and our bats came through.”
Also coming through were Erica Lawrence, who was 1-for-3 with two runs scored; Genevieve Howell, who was 1-for-2 with two runs; and Julia Romano went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
But the run production from Stogner and Pietrewicz were the biggest jolts for a Westfield offense that averages more than 10 runs a game, but which was blanked for the first three innings Wednesday night.
“Emma Pietrewicz’s two-RBI double really jump-started our offense,” Cheddar said. “She has done an awesome job for us both offensively and defensively (in right field) this season.”
Winning pitcher Michaela Hobson struck out seven batters and did not walk anyone. She scattered seven hits, and only three of the five runs against her were earned.
Roselle Park had defeated Benedictine, 2-1, in nine innings in the other semifinal, which was played early Tuesday evening in sunshine before the storm clouds rolled in and wreaked havoc on the Cranford-Westfield nightcap. Cranford's record is now 11-4.
Cranford (11-4) 010 022 0 -- 5 7 1
Westfield (14-1) 000 521 x -- 8 6 4