Starfires Run Rule Road Warriors Ahead Of Critical Weekend

Box Score

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (June 27, 2024) – The Westfield Starfires played arguably their most complete game of the 2024 season, earning a run-rule walk-off 10-0 win over the Futures League Road Warriors at the Richards Jewelers Diamond at Billy Bullens Field on Thursday, June 27.

Westfield is now 15-9 on the season, leading the Futures Collegiate Baseball League as the only squad with fewer than 10 losses.

The teams started off quietly on the offensive side, with no scoring until the fourth inning. In the top half, Joe Muzio drove a 3-2 pitch to the center field wall, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple as Central Connecticut State University’s Gianno Merlonghi fired a perfect toss on one hop to his soon-to-be college teammate Jackson Haker.

In the home half, Merlonghi and Washington State University’s Trey Cruz smacked back-to-back singles with one out, and Merlonghi scored on a grounder to third by Kansas State University’s Chandler Murray that was thrown into center field. Two batters later, Quinnipiac University’s Kyle Garbowski smashed a double into the left field gap, scoring Cruz and Murray for a 3-0 lead.

Three frames later, the Starfires offense clicked again. Murray was hit by a 1-2 offering with one out, and College of Charleston rookie Jayden Novak walked to put two on. Garbowski singled to score Murray, and then Fairfield University’s Matt Lussier worked back from an 0-2 count to walk, loading the bases for Haker.

After falling behind 1-2, Haker put up a fight at the plate, taking two balls while fouling two more off to fill the count. Finally, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, he found one to drive, lining the pitch to center and driving home Novak and Garbowski.

Merlonghi came to the dish again with the bases reloaded after his collegiate teammate Aidan Redahan was hit by a pitch, and popped the ball into the air in right. It should have ended the inning, but the catch was muffed, allowing Haker and Lussier to both score for an 8-0 Westfield lead.

With the run rule in sight in the seventh, Murray led off with a walk, and Novak followed with a single to deep short. Garbowski then hit a flare into left field to put the game-ending run at second base. That brought Vanderbilt University’s Julio Solier to the dish, and he ended the game in style with a single down the right field line that brought in Murray and Novak.

The great offensive showing was backed by strong pitching. Cedarville University’s Sam Formus scattered two hits and two walks over four frames of shutout ball, ending his outing with his lone strikeout to earn his first win. Behind him, Georgia Tech University’s Cody Carwile fanned the first five he faced and seven overall, allowing just one hit and one walk over a three-inning save, his first with Westfield.

The next three days will be consequential for the Starfires; they visit the Norwich Sea Unicorns on Friday, June 28 at Dodd Stadium in a battle of the top two teams in the FCBL.

Following that contest, the team returns to Bullens Field on Saturday, June 29 for a 6:30 p.m. start against the Worcester Bravehearts. Westfield native and finalist on NBC’s hit show ‘The Voice’ Madison Curbelo will be performing as part of the pregame entertainment beginning at 5:30 p.m., and will sing the National Anthem before the game. Additionally, she will meet and greet fans during the contest. Tickets for the game are available to purchase online by clicking here. The game is presented by Berkshire Heating & Air Conditioning.

The game is also Westfield’s First Responders Night, presented by Hampshire Towing; complementary tickets are available for all police, firefighters, EMTs, dispatch, tow truck drivers, and hospital workers at the box office.

On Sunday, June 30, the team will host the Second Annual Starfires Summer Classic presented by MGM Springfield at the Walker Memorial Grandstand in Forest Park. There will be a free youth baseball clinic at 2:00 p.m. prior to the 4:00 p.m. first pitch against the New Britain Bees, and both White Lion Brewing and Palazzo Café will be on hand for concessions. The Frank Manzi Band will also perform live beginning at 2:00 p.m. Admission to the event is free.

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