If there was any thought at all about whether there might, possibly be a hole in Western Albemarle’s baseball team’s lineup, a swing from No. 9 hitter Josh Casteen’s bat in the third inning against No. 8-seeded Spotswood in the Conference 29 quarterfinals Monday night ended that hope.
“Usually when you think about the ninth hitter you’re thinking about straight fastballs but other teams know that because we have such a strong lineup they’re going to have to pitch off speed,” Casteen said. “So you’re going to expect a little different stuff.”
The Warriors, seeded No. 1 in the conference tournament, rolled 10-0 over the Blazers in large part because Casteen unleashed a grand slam down the left field line that broke open the game in the third, putting Western up 8-0.
“He just hung a curveball right down the middle and I saw one before where he threw two in a row so I was kind of expecting it and I just put a good swing on it,” Casteen said. “I haven’t had many chances to do that…it feels good.”
The blast was far from the only piece of hitting by the Warriors, who piled up eight hits and also capitalized on three Spotswood errors. Casteen had a sacrifice fly in the second inning to round out his five RBI day. Dylan Weiss followed up Casteen’s sacrifice fly in that inning with a two-RBI single up of the middle. Logan Ebanks and Harrison Lund also had RBI on the night for Western.
Eli Sumpter, who usually serves as a reliever or a third starter during the week, was rock solid on the hill for the Warriors against the Blazers, throwing a complete game shutout for his fourth win of the year.
The victory lifts Western into the Conference 29 semifinals where they’ll face Waynesboro, who beat Fort Defiance in the quarterfinals 10-4. That clash will take place Wednesday at Broadway and 5 p.m.