Starfires Take Three Points In Series Win Against Silver Knights

BOX SCORES: Game 1 | Game 2

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (July 2, 2024) – The fans who came to the Richard Jewelers Diamond at Billy Bullens Field more than got their money’s worth as the Westfield Starfires played to a 3-3 tie in eight innings before falling in the first home run derby of the 2024 Futures Collegiate Baseball League season and then bounced back from an early deficit for a 10-4 win in the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, July 2.

The Starfires are now 17-11-1, and their .625 winning percentage has them ahead of the Norwich Sea Unicorns and New Britain Bees in first place in the FCBL.

Westfield struck first in the opener, as a two-out single by Central Connecticut State University’s Aidan Redahan started a rally in the third. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Luke Yuhasz, in his first game back with the team in his second stint, smashed a 1-1 pitch off the right-center wall for an RBI double. He scored thanks to heads-up baserunning; Washington State University’s Trey Cruz hit a shot up the middle that Nashua’s shortstop dove to knock down, but Yuhasz rounded third and beat the eventual throw home.

The lead lasted until the fifth; a two-out single was followed by an Owen Carey home run.

Westfield rebounded to score in the home half, as CCSU’s Gianno Merlonghi singled and stole second on a pickoff that should have put him out but was mishandled, then came in on a Redahan single to right. Just as quickly, Nashua answered with a single, stolen base, and single of its own, tying the game at 3-3.

Both teams had chances in the eighth, thanks to the international tiebreaker rule putting a runner at second to start the extra frame, but neither team brought the free runner home, setting up the first FCBL Home Run Derby of the season and securing a standings point for both squads. River Hart, the league’s home run leader, hit two of the three home runs Nashua hit in its chances at the plate, giving the Silver Knights the 3-1 derby win.

The Silver Knights, energized by the win, jumped on Westfield with two runs in each of the first two innings of the second game. They threatened for more in the third with runners at the corners and two outs, but Bryant University’s Cam Papetti and American International College’s Josh Frometa sniffed out a double steal, with Frometa charging in and firing a throw back to the dish to Papetti to tag Hart at the dish.

It was the momentum change the Starfires needed. Iona College’s Anthony Zollo walked to lead off the home half of the third, and Frometa was hit by a pitch to put two on. Julio Solier fell behind 0-2 in the count, but the Boston College rookie drove the pitch into the left-center gap for an RBI single. Yuhasz walked to load the bases, and Kansas State University’s Chandler Murray smacked a two-strike single to center to bring in Frometa and Solier.

An inning later, Zollo led off again and bounced to short, but the throw went awry. The error proved to be damaging, as Frometa sacrificed Zollo over and Merlonghi singled to right to bring him in, tying the game.

The pendulum of momentum had already swung Westfield’s way, but in the fifth the team seized it for good as Hofstra University’s Luke Masiuk doubled off the wall. He scored a batter later when Murray smacked a single to center, and then Murray came home the easy way when Papetti crushed his second home run of the season, a no-doubt shot to left-center.

The Starfires still were not done. Zollo singled to center and took second on a pickoff throw that sailed into the visiting bullpen, and he scored when Frometa laced a triple down the left-field line. The second baseman came in himself on a passed ball for an 9-4 lead.

Westfield put the cherry on top in the sixth with a Masiuk single to lead off, and Murray doubled to center to bring him home with his third hit and fourth RBI of the game.

Meanwhile, the Starfires bullpen was masterful; University of North Florida sophomore Jacob Thomas twirled 3.1 innings of two hit, five strikeout baseball in getting the win in game two. He was the last of six relievers for Westfield between the two games, and the relief combined for 8.2 innings with one run, five hits, and nine strikeouts.

Westfield now heads on the road for six straight, starting Wednesday, July 3 at the Brockton Rox with a 6:30 p.m. start.

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