For all of 29 pitches, West Springfield looked like a lock to receive the Virginia AAA Northern Region baseball runner-up trophy for a fourth straight year.
Defending state champion W.T. Woodson jumped all over Spartans starter Bill Martz, building a 7-1 lead by the fourth inning. But Jamie Warren hit two home runs and Martz one as the Spartans bounced back to stun the Cavaliers and ace pitcher Doug Newstrom, 12-7, yesterday at Fairfax High School.
The Spartans (19-5) will face Northwest Region runner-up GW-Danville in a state quarterfinal at 7:30 Tuesday at Fairfax High School.
W.T. Woodson (20-4) also advances to the final round of eight, traveling to Northwest Region champion Heritage Tuesday.
Neither Coach Lee Knupp nor Newstrom offered any excuses for the team's collapse. Newstrom, who has been the region's best pitcher the last two seasons and is expected to be a major league draft pick next month, said this was his worst performance in his high school career.
"They hit the ball very well," he said. "No excuses. I felt okay but I did struggle."
Newstrom (7-2) had allowed six earned runs and struck out 90 in 61 innings before yesterday's nightmare. "We made some mental errors in the field but they really hit the ball pretty good."
In his five innings, he yielded nine hits and nine earned runs, including two home runs. He struck out four and walked seven.
"Maybe the long layoff hurt him," Krupp said. "I thought he was well rested but . . . we just ran out of gas. They came to play and we showed up."
For at least three innings, it looked like another day at the park for the Cavaliers, who had won 44 of their last 48 games, including a streak of 33. Martz didn't retire a batter as Woodson parlayed three hits and four walks into a 4-0 lead. Reliever Chad Olms got Craig Hummer to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
But Woodson got a run in the second and two in the fourth to lead 7-1.
Despite that, Newstrom couldn't get it together. An error allowed a run in the third, but to that point the Spartans still had only one hit and had stranded five. But West Springfield went wild the next three innings.
"We hit the ball very hard against Oakton" in a 12-5 victory, West Springfield's longtime coach, Ron Tugwell, said. "So I felt we could hit Newstrom. Our outs were hard-hit balls. I think he got a little tired and our kids didn't quit."
West Springfield scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth, getting a bases-loaded walk to Rob Cassals and a two-run single by Gary Butterworth.
The Spartans teed off on Newstrom in the fifth. Warren opened with a home run to left-center to make it 7-6. Brett Steiner singled, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Jim Francis walked. Steiner then scored on another wild pitch, Francis moving to second.
Cassals singled, putting runners at first and third. Butterworth's single to center put the Spartans ahead, 8-7. Cassals was thrown out at third. Martz jumped on a fastball and hit it high over the left-center field fence to make it 10-7.
"That helped me a lot," he said. "But Jamie's hits really picked us up."
West Springfield applied the flourish when Warren greeted reliever Tom Hamilton with a two-run homer for a 12-7 lead.
Tugwell, not wanting to risk losing now, turned back to Martz after Alex Vaxmonsky, the third pitcher, began to struggle in the fifth. This time Martz found the plate and limited Woodson to one single in the last three innings. "I told Coach I was ready," said Martz (5-2). "I had thrown only 29 pitches and it takes me a while to get in the game.
"I got some runs back and I felt a lot better when I went back on the mound."
And with that, West Springfield took home its biggest baseball victory.