Moments before Westfield’s first-round Union County Tournament game at Summit back on April 29, the Blue Devils stood at 3-5.
They were actually on a two-game winning streak and had senior right hander Michael Carlone – one of their top pitchers – ready to go against the host Hilltoppers.
This is what Westfield head coach Bob Brewster said while his team was getting warmed up, “I have no idea which team will show up today.”
Westfield was blanked 3-0 and did not reach the UCT quarterfinals, a rarity during the 37 seasons Brewster has been at the helm.
One day after losing at arch rival Scotch Plains in the bottom of the seventh the Blue Devils were then defeated at Seton Hall Prep to slip to 5-10.
On May 17 the Blue Devils lost at East Brunswick 4-2, falling to 7-12 before embarking on defending their 2018 North 2, Group 4 sectional championship.
Westfield, the eighth seed this time after winning the section last year as the top seed, defeated ninth-seeded Union 4-2 at home in May 20th first-round play. Carlone pitched four innings and fellow senior Michael Catanzaro three.
Then the Blue Devils ventured into Hudson County and took out top-seeded Bayonne 3-2 last Friday, Catanzaro tossing a four-hitter.
On Wednesday it was Westfield winning at fourth-seeded Scotch Plains 3-1, Carlone earning the win and Catanzaro the save.
Westfield has now produced a season-high three-game winning streak.
Break up the Blue Devils?
Westfield also ousted Scotch Plains in last year’s semifinal round, winning 6-4 at home.
It was the Blue Devils winning in the bottom of the seventh back on April 11 against Scotch Plains – a 5-4 triumph – that prevented Westfield from getting out to an 0-5 start. The Blue Devils were outscored 34-11 their first four games.
Now here they are, in a sectional final once again.
On Friday at 4 p.m. in Basking Ridge it will be eighth-seeded Westfield, still under .500 at 10-12, at second-seeded Ridge (18-9).
The last time Westfield and Ridge played was on May 7 of last year, the Blue Devils coming out on top 2-0 at Ridge. Carlone tossed a two-hit, complete-game, shutout, striking out four and walking three in a fine 88-pitch performance.
For Ridge that day it was Cooper Bobowicz also going the distance, allowing five hits while throwing 89 pitches. He struck out seven and walked one.
Bobowicz was also the winning pitcher Wednesday when Ridge eliminated third-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan 11-1.
Retiring from teaching this year, every game now possibly becomes Brewster’s last. He has not made an official announcement yet on whether this year will be it.
NOTES: Brewster has guided Westfield to North 2, Group 4 crowns in 1988, 2011, 2013 and 2018.
Brewster is now one win away from tying Gordon LeMatty of Union for second place among the winningest baseball coaches in Union County. Ray Korn of Roselle Catholic and Elizabeth is first at 651, LeMatty second at 641 and Brewster third at 640.
Here’s a closer look at their records:
Ray Korn: 651-308-1 (.679)
1974-1979 – 6 seasons at Roselle Catholic
1 state championship – Parochial A in 1978
1980-2009 – 29 seasons (he did not coach one of those years) at Elizabeth
3 state championships – Group 4 in 1983, 1986 and 1994
Korn also guided Elizabeth to Union County Tournament
championships in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1991 and 2008.
Gordon LeMatty: 641-272-4 (.702)
1959-1991 – 33 seasons at Union
2 state championships – Group 4 in 1972 and 1974
LeMatty also guided Union to Central, Group 4 state titles in 1966 and 1968
and the Farmers to the first seven of their eight UCT championships, the last one
coming in 1975. In addition, LeMatty led Union to the 1966 and 1970
Greater Newark Tournament crowns.
Bob Brewster: 640-329-3 (.661)
1983-present – 37 seasons at Westfield
Brewster has guided the Blue Devils to Group 4 state championship games in 2011 (Toms River South), 2013 (Toms River North) and 2018 (Veterans Park, Hamilton).
Brewster has also led Westfield to 11 UCT championships, the most by any coach,
with his last coming in 2017.
UNION COUNTY BASEBALL
STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, MAY 30
CENTRAL JERSEY, GROUP 2 SEMIFINAL
5-Point Pleasant Boro at 1-Gov. Livingston, 4 p.m.
GL last won CJ, G2 two years ago.
FRIDAY, MAY 31
NORTH 2, GROUP 4 FINAL
8-Westfield at 2-Ridge, 4 p.m.
Westfield is the defending champion.
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 FINAL
4-Brearley at 3-New Providence, 4 p.m.
New Providence is the defending champion.