Westfield was down six runs. The Bulldogs' ace pitcher was struggling. Their normally solid infield was kicking -- and throwing -- the ball all over the place.
It didn't matter Friday. Thanks to a pair of clutch hits by Adam McDermott and Val Arduini, Westfield rallied from two runs down in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Mills Godwin, 8-7, and earn a berth in Saturday's Virginia AAA championship baseball game.
The Bulldogs (20-6) will make the four-year-old program's first state final appearance against Western Branch at 4 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium. North Carolina State signee Ryan Pond pitched the Bruins (19-8) to a 5-0 victory over Lee (15-12) in a driving rainstorm in the other semifinal.
The Bulldogs, down to their last strike, were saved by Arduini, a sophomore second baseman who has contributed several key hits during the team's playoff run. His infield single scored McDermott from second base with the winning run on a wild play.
"It just seems like I'm always in a pressure situation," Arduini said. "It felt like the longest at-bat ever. . . . That was definitely the most exciting game I've ever been in."
Arduini's sharp grounder up the middle took a strange hop as it crossed the pitcher's mound. The Mills Godwin second baseman smothered the ball, but his throw to first was late and off target. The first baseman turned and threw home as McDermott sped around third base. The ball never got there -- it skipped to the backstop, allowing McDermott to score, clinching the Bulldogs' 16th win in 17 games and touching off a manic celebration in the stands and on the field.
"That was the craziest game I've ever been involved with," said McDermott, a junior designated hitter whose seventh-inning single drove in two runs to tie the game at 7. "Our team never gives up."
Junior left-hander John Lloyd (8-0) picked up the victory in relief of Louis Ullrich. All-Met short stop Brandon Snyder, who played through a right shoulder injury he suffered in the third, went 2 for 4 and scored twice. Bulldogs catcher Jason Bour started the Bulldogs' rally by blasting a two run homer, his sixth, which trimmed their deficit to 6-3 in the fourth inning. Mills Godwin fell to 18-8.
"That was our biggest comeback this year," Westfield Coach Chuck Welch said. "We were making our first state appearance. We were down 6-0. How easy would it have been for us to pack it in? . . . We were running out of chances."
Ullrich yielded four walks and a single in the first inning as Godwin grabbed a 2-0 lead. In the third inning, the Eagles racked up four runs on four hits, a walk and a throwing error to put them ahead 6-0.
"That game was a good example of how our whole season has gone," said Snyder, referring to Westfield's rally from a 4-5 start to the season. "We've been the underdog all season. Going down 6-0 today just lit a fire under us. We weren't ready to go home."
In the second game, Lee, which advanced further than any team in school history after entering the playoffs 10-9, had its improbable run halted by Pond, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander who had 10 strikeouts. Third baseman Greg Jones had two of the Lancers' three hits in the game, which was delayed by rain and finished after 11 p.m.
"It's disappointing. But anytime you get to the final four in the state, that's a great accomplishment," Lee Coach Dave Gardziel said. "They started playing with some confidence at the end of the season. That was the biggest difference."