AMHERST – It took the perfect comeback for the Westfield Bombers to reach their final(s) moment.
After No. 4 Minnechaug (15-7) scored a pair of runs in the first inning, the Bomber offense came out swinging, scoring five unanswered runs to seal a 5-2 victory in a Western Massachussetts Division 1 semifinal Saturday.
With the win, No. 1 Westfield (22-0) earned its first spot in the title game since 2009 and squared off against No. 2 Longmeadow Sunday.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a one-run game,” said Westfield Head Coach Joe Stella. “We hit the ball well last game and pulled it out. We knew we could put some runs on the board.”
Down 2-0 before their first at-bats, the Bombers started strong offensively. Despite the Falcons nailing Jessie Pratt at home plate, Kaitlyn Puza drove in Madison Atkocaitis to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Bombers took their first lead in the third inning, after Minnechaug Head Coach Rob Baroni was tossed for arguing balls and strikes. With the bases loaded on two walks and an error, first baseman Karly Mastello lined a two-run single, plating Atkocaitis and Puza.
WHS provided some insurance in the following inning, again thanks to the top of their lineup. With two on and one out, Lexi Minicucci grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Pratt just ahead of the throw to the plate. An error from shortstop Rachel Breton allowed Atkocaitis to score her third run of the game and put the Bombers up 5-2.
“We just got together and talked it over before the game even started,” said Atkocaitis. “We just have to take a deep breath and know what we have to do when we get up there. We have a strong team all-around, offensively and defensively and if we just play our game than we can go far.”
A theme throughout the season, Westfield received a quality outing from pitcher Sarah McNerney. The senior threw seven strong innings, allowing five hits while striking out four. After Minnechaug went on top in the first inning, McNerney settled down and retired 15 of the next 17 batters, allowing just two singles.
“Sarah made some adjustments,” said Stella. “We had a game plan going in and we had to make some adjustments. She did great keeping them quiet. We knew she could do it.”