GLEN ALLEN, Va. — Familiarity breeds contempt, or so the saying goes, but for West Springfield baseball Coach Jason Olms, a fifth game against Lake Braddock this season, this one in the Virginia Class 6 semifinals, provoked not anger but irritation.
The Spartans trailed the Bruins in the season series entering Friday’s state tournament matchup, having lost three times and won just once. Yes, West Springfield had claimed the most recent win, in the Region C championship game on June 1, but Olms left the game with a feeling of foreboding.
“After the region final, the first thought that popped into my head was, ‘Oh, God, we’ve got to beat them again,’ ” Olms said.
His premonition proved true: The Spartans beat Chantilly in their state quarterfinal Tuesday, then Olms headed to Battlefield and watched Lake Braddock orchestrate a comeback win to set up the state semifinal rematch. That night, Olms texted assistant coach Charlie Morgan and cursed their luck in drawing the Bruins once more, but Morgan fired back: “No, that’s what we want.”
“And I realized he was right,” Olms said. “We work all season for games like this. Charlie won the state championship as a player in 2010, when I was an assistant coach, so he knows what he’s talking about.”
Lake Braddock scored two runs in the top of the first inning Friday, but West Springfield held its rival scoreless the rest of the game in a 6-2 victory at Deep Run.
The Spartans move on to face Western Branch in the Class 6 state final at 2 p.m. Saturday at Deep Run.
West Springfield’s last state championship, one of three in team history, was the one in 2010. That also was its most recent state final appearance before this season.
Senior pitcher Calvin Pastel set the tone for West Springfield (19-5) from the mound. Pastel was pitching against No. 4 Lake Braddock (21-5) for the third time this season.
In his previous appearance against the Bruins, in the Region C final, he threw a complete game and added a two-run home run for the Spartans.
Much like that game, in which Lake Braddock took an early 1-0 lead, the Bruins scored two runs in the top of the first inning Friday on four sharply hit singles.
“I got up on the mound, I was feeling good, I got a couple strikeouts to start out the game, and then they started to piece me up,” Pastel said. “I left a couple pitches down the middle, and they took advantage of it. But everyone in the dugout knew we could come back.”
After all, the Spartans had done just that exactly a week earlier. Pastel settled in and kept more of his pitches on the corners of the strike zone to throw the opposing batters off-balance. He also helped his own cause with a leadoff single that turned into a run in the first inning, then another single that became a run in the third inning.
The Spartans scored once in the bottom of the first and three times in the bottom of the third to take a 4-2 lead and remained in control through the rest of the game.