WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (May 31, 2022) – The Westfield Starfires found yet another way to win a baseball game, downing the Norwich Sea Unicorns 4-3 in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League matchup at Bullens Field on Tuesday, May 31.
The Starfires are now 6-0, and set a new franchise record for consecutive wins within a season; dating back to the end of the 2021 campaign, the team has won nine consecutive games, also a franchise best.
Both teams had a chance in the second inning; the Sea Unicorns put men on the corners with one out, but Jackson Hornung threw out Tyler Kipp trying to steal second and Alex Perez induced a popout to close the frame, and while Patrick D’Amico singled to lead off the bottom half and stole both second and third, he was stranded there.
The third was a different story. Back-to-back walks put Ben Jerome and Jared Zimbardo on with nobody out. Two batters later, Jackson Ferrigno singled to left, but Luca Giallongo came up firing and cut down Jerome at the dish. Sean Swenson followed with another single, however, and this time Zimbardo reached home safely to put Norwich ahead 1-0.
The lead did not last. Hornung hit a two-out double to left, and Cooper Johnson walked to bring D’Amico to the dish. He fell behind 0-2 but battled to fill the count and then drove the ball down the left field line, scoring Hornung and Johnson to flip the one-run deficit into a one-run lead.
In the fifth, the Sea Unicorns flipped it back, all with two outs. Swenson doubled to center and scored on a Danny Melnick single. Nick Sturino singled, and Kipp followed with a double to the wall. Melnick scored to put Norwich on top, but another brilliant outfield assist led to an out at home as Johnson put a laser into Brendan Jones that he fired to Hornung to put Sturino out at the dish. That allowed Westfield to tie the game in the home half, as Giallongo singled and swiped second before coming around on Hornung’s single through the right side.
In the sixth, Daniel Burnett earned a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch. He then came around to score as Brian Norsen singled to left, giving the hosts a 4-3 lead. From there, it was on the bullpen, and Chicopee, Massachusetts native Zach Nichols was first up. He worked around a pair of walks to get out of the inning, thanks in part to a strong defensive play by Johnson in center to put Kipp away.
Springfield College’s John DiGirolamo handled the eighth, and allowed just one hit as he stranded a runner on second by getting former Starfire Dougie De La Cruz to pop out to end the inning.
In the ninth, East Longmeadow, Massachusetts native Tim Kroll was asked to collect the save and had no issues, drawing a flyout and a groundout before picking the corner for a called strike three on Melnick to end the game.
Craven, who went 2.2 innings with two runs on four hits and two strikeouts, earned the win. Hornung and Giallongo both collected three hits in the game.
The team has a quick turnaround, with a 10:30 a.m. start on Wednesday, June 1 against the Pittsfield Suns as the Starfires host another Education Day Game at Bullens Field.