Starfires Announce Team Awards, Close 2023 Season

Box Scores: Game 1 | Game 2

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (August 7, 2023) - The Westfield Starfires closed the 2023 season on Sunday, August 6, issuing team awards ahead of a doubleheader with the Norwich Sea Unicorns. The visitors took the games by 7-5 and 3-1 scores.

Westfield ends the season at 31-31-1; the 63 standings points in 63 games marks the first time in franchise history that the team has finished .500 on a season.

The awards ceremony began with the team's Baystate Health Rookie of the Year, which was won by Central Connecticut State University incoming freshman Owen Arias. The catcher from New Milford, Connecticut, played 17 games for the squad, and hit two home runs while throwing out six runners. 

The St. Germain Investments Reliever of the Year was earned by FCBL All-Star Joe Espinola. The Plymouth, Massachusetts native and Westfield State University senior fanned 28 and walked just one batter in 29.1 innings of work.

Michael Breen took home the OMG Defensive Player of the Year honor. The middle infielder from Auburn, Massachusetts, a senior at Salve Regina University, posted 66 putouts and 81 assists across 291 defensive innings.

The Richards Jewelers Diamond In The Rough went to Westfield State's Joe Fischer. The senior from Avon, Massachusetts made 13 appearances, throwing 19.1 innings, with five appearances of two or more innings. He struck out 18 opposing hitters.

Earning the Westfield Gas & Electric Silver Slugger Award was the University of Louisiana-Lafayette's Luke Yuhasz. The Moss Bluff, Louisiana native notched three doubles, two triples, and four home runs in 20 games while contributing incredible outfield defense. 

The next award was an emotional one, as the team honored the franchise's and FCBL's all-time strikeouts leader, Shayne Audet, by naming the team's Berkshire Heating and Air Conditioning Pitcher of the Year Award after him. Audet, a Springfield, Massachusetts native who earned 121 of his 179 FCBL strikeouts for Westfield from 2021-23, will close his collegiate career at Penn State University next spring.

Audet presented the inaugural Shayne Audet Award to Alfred State College senior Ryan Bailey; the product of Union Springs, New York, led the FCBL with 59 strikeouts and earned an All-Star selection.

The Westfield Bank Most Valuable Player was Rochester, New York native Nick Serce. Serce, who completed his undergraduate career at Alfred State and will be using his remaining eligibility at American International College, led the FCBL in extra base hits with 23 and set a franchise record by crushing 13 longballs. His .574 slugging percentage and .995 on-base plus slugging both led the league among qualified hitters.

The final award was the FCBL's Adam Keenan Award, given to one player on each of the FCBL's franchises who exemplifies the outstanding attitude, character and sportsmanship that is synonymous with Adam Keenan’s legacy. That award went to Chicopee, Massachusetts native and American International junior Josh Frometa, who was one of the team's key emotional leaders and compiled an outstanding record of community service during the season while also posting a .368 on-base percentage.

The games themselves might have been seen as playing out the string, as the Starfires had been eliminated from playoff contention two days prior. However, they delivered one more lasting emotional moment. In the fourth frame of the second contest, Dan Burnett smacked an RBI double to right field to put the Starfires on the board. It was the final at-bat of a franchise-record 90-game Starfires career for the son of Southwick, Massachusetts and senior at Westfield State. Manager Kyle Dembrowski opted to lift Burnett for a pinch runner, allowing the team's star third baseman a curtain call from the fans and his teammates, who piled out of the dugout and bullpen to congratulate him. 

The team heads into the offseason with plenty to build upon for the 2024 campaign. Check back often for news and updates throughout the winter.

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