WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (August 2, 2022) – The Westfield Starfires defeated the Brockton Rox to secure their fourth straight Futures Collegiate Baseball League matchup Tuesday night by a final score of 9-4.
With the win, the Starfires move to 29-29 on the season. The Starfires sit three games ahead of both the Norwich Sea Unicorns and Worcester Bravehearts for the final playoff spot with five to be played by all teams.
The Starfires jumped on top in the second inning when three straight singles by Gunnar Johnson, Jack Wentworth and Patrick D’Amico loaded the bases with no outs. Johnson then scored on a throwing error by the Rox right fielder. Newcomer Jackson Haker, who made his first appearance for the Starfires, then ripped a single to drive in Wentworth. He was followed by D’Amico, who scored on a wild pitch, putting the Starfires up 3-0.
The Rox quickly got on the board in the top of the third inning, stringing together a series of hits. The first two runs came in on a Peter Messervy single and an Andrew Bryant single, and the tying run scored when Bronson Balholm was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded to score Messervy.
The tie did not last. The Starfires loaded the bases with no outs again in the fourth, this time on a D’Amico walk, a Chad Lavelle single, and a Haker walk. Luca Giallongo then bounced into a fielder’s choice, scoring D’Amico, and Lavelle came home only one batter later on a Brendan Jones sacrifice fly, putting the Starfires up 5-3.
The home team tacked on two more insurance runs in the fifth inning when Noah Campanelli walked, advanced to third on pitching miscues, and scored on a Wentworth single. Wentworth then stole second, was replaced by Ryan Lavelle on the bases, and he scored on a D’Amico single. The Rox would post one run in the sixth on a solo home run to left field by Jack Doyle, but the Starfires did not take their foot off the gas, adding two more runs in the eighth. Haker singled and Giallongo was hit by the pitch before both runners came home to score on a Jones double, making the score 9-4 Starfires.
Starfires starting and relief pitching were dominant, setting a new franchise record for most strikeouts in a game with 18. New England College product Shayne Audet started, pitching five innings, and allowing three runs on two hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. His NEC teammate Tim Krol followed, pitching 2.2 innings of relief, and allowing one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Zach Nichols came in for the save, pitching the final 1.1 innings and striking out all four batters he faced.
“I felt good today, I was really just competing with the fastball, seeing what they liked about it, and going with the curveball late in the count to see if I could get a swing and miss and it worked a lot,” Nichols said about his save performance. He also praised the entire team when talking about the new franchise record, saying, “It’s awesome…It was a whole team performance [and] it is definitely awesome to have that stat forever.”
The Starfires will play their final meeting of the season against the Nashua Silver Knights on the road tomorrow at Holman Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
For the latest on the team, be sure to follow the Starfires on Twitter and Instagram @starfiresbb, and visit us on the web at westfieldstarfires.com.