GISA ELITE 8: Deerfield sweeps into Final 4

Deerfield baseball coach Rod Murray is four wins away from leading the Knights to their first state title since he took over the program.

Deerfield baseball coach Rod Murray is four wins away from leading the Knights to their first state title since he took over the program.

PERRY — Deerfield-Windsor freshman Justin Glover couldn't hide for long.

Moments after hitting a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Knights to a 3-2 win against rival Westfield in Saturday's GISA Class AAA quarterfinals, Glover was chased down by his DWS teammates.

"Everybody was looking for somebody to hug. They were jumping up and down and hugging and trying to find Justin," Deerfield coach Rod Murray said. "They found him somewhere between first and second."

Murray then added: “They found him somewhere between first and second.”

Piling on each other, the Knights celebrated a two-game sweep of Westfield to advance to next weekend’s state semifinal at home against Brookwood.

Glover’s bases-loaded single to left field in Game 2 capped a two-run rally in the eighth that stunned the No. 1 seed Hornets, who dropped the opener to Deerfield, 7-6, earlier Saturday.

“We got on the bus ready to play,” Murray said. “We knew these games would be close and hard-fought, and we thought that whoever executed best would come out as winners. We feel very fortunate to get a sweep and are ready to get home and try to win another series.”

The second game was a pitchers’ duel between Deerfield-Windsor’s Weston King and Westfield’s William Amos, but King outlasted the Hornets right-hander, throwing all eight innings and 111 pitches for the Knights and allowing just four hits.

The Knights scored a run in the third when James Moree crossed the plate on a Harris Webb grounder. King held the Hornets scoreless until the fifth, when Beau Holcomb drove Dustin Hall home with a base hit.

Playing as the visiting team in the second game, the Hornets took the lead in the top of the eighth when Barrett Stanley scored on a Brown sacrifice fly, but the Knights answered on a rally that started on yet another Westfield error. Webb connected on an infield grounder, but he reached safely and advanced to second on an error.

Following a pop out and a walk to King, Coleman Butler connected on his first hit of the day, a double off the fence in center field, to drive Webb home with the tying run. Glover then singled to left, allowing King to score the game-winner.

“Weston King has won a lot of big games for us over his career, and he just battled all day long (Saturday),” said Murray of King. “I could not be more proud of the effort he gave us. We just were not going to be denied.”

For Westfield, it was a day full of missed opportunities.

“We left 11 men on base the first game and had chances in both games,” Westfield head coach Rob Fitzpatrick said. “I thought it was just two even baseball games with both teams playing hard the entire way. Sure, we were a little sloppy defensively, but our pitching was great all day and we still could have won either game.

“It’s very difficult to have eight seniors play their last game, and I thanked them for helping me build this program into what it is today.”

Westfield struggled defensively in the first game, committing five errors while wasting a solid effort by pitcher Garrett Brown, who gave up only two earned runs while striking out 10.

Brown threw 102 pitches in the opener, with only 22 of those pitches going for balls. But two crucial errors in the fourth inning allowed the Knights to score three runs, giving them a 7-4 lead, and Glover came in relief to hold onto the lead for the win.

“It feels good to be in this moment,” Murray said. “You are on the edge of your seat, and you don’t know what will happen next in the playoffs. It’s a fun ride right now.”