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June 12, 2010

Spartans take title!

The Woodbridge Vikings came within one game of a perfect season, but West Springfield had other ideas.

The Spartans scored first after Woodbridge ace Nick Rogowski walked the first two batters he faced. The runners advanced on a groundout, and Kyle Snyder's sac fly brought home Aaron Self.

The 1-0 lead held up until the top of the third, when the 27-0 Vikings put together some offense. A two-out double by sophomore star Tyler Thomas tied the game, scoring Kevin Tatum. The Spartans avoided further damage as Bobby Wahl got Woodbridge left fielder Brian Wirth to pop out.

Things started to go south for the Vikings in the bottom of the third. A leadoff walk issued to Nick Stevens preceded back-to-back singles by Self and first baseman Charlie Morgan. Wahl followed with a 2-RBI single to make it 3-1. Garrett Woodell delivered an RBI groundout a couple of batters later to give West Springfield a 4-1 lead after three.

Woodbridge responded again by scoring in its half of the fourth. Catcher Zack Szwed led off with an infield single. Third baseman Brandon Gum walked, and the Vikings had two on with none out. Justin Petock's sacrifice bunt moved both men up. Leadoff batter Logan Farrar then singled in a run. Tatum drew a walk, and Wahl looked like he was in trouble for the first time all day. But with the bases loaded, he managed to get a pop-up from Kyle Toomey, then struck out Thomas to end the Woodbridge threat.

The failure to capitalize would prove costly. The Spartans sealed the Vikings' fate in the bottom of the inning.

With two on and one out, a damaging error allowed Morgan to reach first and Tyler Basse to score West Springfield's fifth run. Wahl followed with another RBI single, and Rogowski's day on the mound was finished. Petock replaced him, but gave up singles to Snyder and Allen, the latter of which scored two runs. A sac fly by Woodell scored yet another run before a groundout brought an end to the five-run frame.

With his team now in firm control of the game, Wahl began to get in a good rhythm. He had a 1-2-3 fifth and then struck out the first two batters of the sixth. However, Gum reached first on his strikeout when the the catcher dropped the ball. That eventually extended the inning, and a two-out double by Tatum and a walk to Toomey loaded the bases again for Thomas. The result was the same, as Wahl managed to strike out the Woodbridge cleanup hitter with the bases jammed a second consecutive time.

The Spartans added a run in the top of the seventh on a double by Snyder, setting the stage for Woodbridge's last gasp to remain unbeaten. It didn't last long, as Wahl got his second 1-2-3 inning in the final three, culminating with a comebacker by Szwed that Wahl fielded himself, setting off a massive celebration by the Spartans and their fans.

Woodbridge had a phenomenal season, and nearly joined 1975 Kempsville, 1987 Mills Godwin, 1993 First Colonial, and 2002 James Madison as undefeated Group AAA state champions. Instead, they join teams like 1978 Robinson as very good teams that weren't able to come away with a title.

This is West Springfield's third Group AAA baseball championship. The Spartans also won titles in 1991 and 1998. The champions finish with a record of 24-4 to go along with their Northern Region and state crowns. One of those four losses was an 8-4 decision at the hands of the Vikings back during a Spring Break tournament on March 31.

Wahl (7.0 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 5 BB, 7 K) will go on to Ole Miss next season if he doesn't sign professionally with the Indians organization. He also went 3-for-4 at the plate with 3 RBI. Other standouts from today's game included Aaron Self, who reached base four times, going 3-for-3 with a walk. Kyle Snyder was 2-for-2 with a walk and 2 RBI. On the Woodbridge side, Kevin Tatum reached base safely four times on a 2-for-2 day with two walks. Northwest Region Player of the Year Rogowski took the loss (3.1 IP, 8 R, 6 H, 2 K, 4 BB) after throwing 140 pitches in his last start, an extra-innings state quarter-final win.

Woodbridge (27-1) . . . . . . . . . . . . 0011000 2 7 2

West Springfield (24-4) . . . . . . . . 103501x 10 11 1

W: Wahl

L: Rogowski

Tom Garrett has been writing for VirginiaPreps.com for over a decade. Enjoy his "news & views" column each week, which includes his new Central Region Top Ten, a recap of the top games of the week, plus thoughts and observations on various topics.

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