Chantilly and West Springfield playoff matchups have a history of coming down to the last out. Nobody in the Chargers’ starting lineup was around for Chantilly’s close win in the 2008 region semifinal, or the loss the next year when the Spartans walked off with a win in the bottom of the ninth inning. But Coach Kevin Ford was, and he had no intention of going down to the wire with the Spartans again.
So Ford sent ace Eason Recto out to start Wednesday’s Virginia 6A North region semifinal with a message — “one way or another, let’s not have it come down to something like that.”
Recto struck out nine and sophomore Jared DiCesare hit a two-run home run to give Chantilly a decisive 4-1 victory in Springfield. The Chargers will meet McLean in Friday’s region final after the Highlanders knocked off rival Madison in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Ford said Recto’s ability to control the movement of his pitches and minimize base-running was huge. “He was unbelievable,” Ford said, “and he’s been that way all season.”
An early hit up the middle from Mike Sciorra sent home Grant Bain and got the visiting Chargers (16-7) on the board in the first inning. Sciorra followed up with a double to left field in the top of the third and later scored on an error.
“We are probably one of the best teams when it comes to chemistry,” said Recto, who will play for Cornell. “We jumped on them from the start and they weren’t able to match our energy.”
West Springfield (15-6) brought in sophomore Jacob Kisner to relieve Blake Bird on the mound after three innings, and he was able to keep the Chargers from getting past first until DiCesare came up to plate. DiCesare hoped to at least drive one of Kisner’s curveballs. Instead, he hit it over the fence to drive in Ben McGrath and score the Chargers’ final run.
It was DiCesare’s second playoff home run this season.
“It’s been extra practice,” DiCesare said, “going before the games and finding a groove with hitting.”
West Springfield loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth as rain began to fall. Matt Stallings singled to drive in the Spartans’ only run, but the Chargers turned a double-play to clear the bases and Recto struck out the next batter to end the threat.