Starfires Win Slugfest In Brockton

Box Score

BROCKTON, Massachusetts (July 3, 2024) – Run scoring was not an issue as the Westfield Starfires outslugged the Brockton Rox, 16-12, in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League contest at Campanelli Stadium on Wednesday, July 3.

Westfield is now 18-11-1 on the season, still atop the FCBL standings.

The Rox jumped out to a quick lead with a Sebastian Mexico RBI single in the first and a Gabe Pitts RBI single in the second.

Westfield bounced back in the third to take the lead. Quinnipiac University’s Kyle Garbowski led off with a single, and Boston College’s Julio Solier put down a sacrifice bunt, reaching when the throw to first went awry. Both advanced on a groundout before Central Connecticut State University’s Gianno Merlonghi drove in the duo with a single to tie the game, though he was thrown out at second trying to advance.

University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Luke Yuhasz singled to right, and swiped second base. The steal turned out to be unnecessary, as Washington State University’s Trey Cruz launched the next pitch into the Starfires bullpen in left center, giving his team a 4-2 lead.

“We all knew we couldn’t get beat; we were refusing to go, regardless…just control what we can control,” Cruz said.

In the fourth, Luke Masiuk wasted no time, as the Hofstra University star drilled the first pitch he saw into the bullpen as well for a solo shot. Two batters later, Solier walked, stole second, advanced on a balk to third, and came home on an error at second base.

“I was kind of waiting for it. Glad I got the first one on the board; hopefully [there will be] a lot more,” Masiuk said.

The Rox were down, but not out, and in the home half of the fifth, a Sean O’Leary RBI triple narrowed the gap; he scored on a Martin Howell single, negating the two Westfield runs and cutting the lead to 6-4.

Both teams scored in the sixth; Chandler Murray of Kansas State University led off with a four-pitch walk, advanced on a Masiuk single and a wild pitch, and then came home when Solier hit a grounder to second. However, two straight walks to start the home half of the inning ultimately led to four runs, with two RBI on a single by D’Angelo Ortiz. Brockton was back on top, 8-7.

The back-and-forth continued in the seventh, with an RBI single by Cruz for Westfield and then Brockton scoring on a Dante Leach RBI groundout.

The Starfires retook the lead in the eighth. Murray was hit by a pitch, and manager Paul Bonfiglio elected to have American International College’s Josh Frometa pinch run. The change worked, as Frometa was able to stay out of a double play on a groundout, and Garbowski and Solier both reached to load the bases. CCSU’s Aidan Redahan hit a fly to left, scoring Frometa and tying the game.

That brought Merlonghi to the dish, and he untied it quickly, hammering the first pitch he saw over the Brockton bullpen down the left field line and out of the stadium for a 12-9 Westfield lead.

“I feel like something we were able to today was get a lot of extra base hits, which ended up with guys being able to get RBIs and get runs in, and that’s why we scored 16 runs,” Merlonghi said.

In the ninth, the Starfires stacked on more runs. Cruz led off with a double, and Bryant University’s Cameron Papetti walked. Louisiana-Lafayette’s Blaine Lucas then battled back from an 0-2 count to walk the bases loaded, and his college teammate Caleb Stelly was hit by an 0-2 pitch to push Cruz home. Two batters later, Solier hit a sacrifice fly to bring Papetti home, and Lucas advanced to third. That allowed Lucas and Stelly to execute a double steal, and then to make matters worse for the Rox, Stelly swiped third and scored when the throw sailed into left field.

Westfield had a 16-9 lead, and the runs mattered; Brockton put up a fight, scoring three times in the bottom half of the ninth before Howell was struck out swinging to end the game.

Westfield State University’s Joe Fischer earned the win, allowing just one run on two hits in two frames; St. John’s University hurler Ty Longoria threw the ninth, fanning three.

The Starfires will play an early Independence Day game in the granite state, visiting the Nashua Silver Knights on Thursday, July 4 at 11:00 a.m. as the team continues its six-game road trip.

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