BURLINGTON, Vermont (July 10, 2022) – The Westfield Starfires never trailed as they won a pitcher’s duel, 3-2, over the Vermont Lake Monsters in the second game of a weekend Futures Collegiate Baseball League series on Sunday, July 10.
The victory pushes the Starfires up to 20-19 on the season.
Through five innings of work, both starters were dominant. Westfield’s Justin Sinibaldi allowed three hits and struck out six, and Vermont’s Nick Berger scattered four hits and struck out four.
But in the top of the sixth, the Lake Monsters went to the bullpen, and Westfield pounced on reliever Will Parkinson. Daniel Burnett and Jack Power both walked, advancing into scoring position on a bouncer to first. Westfield manager Kyle Dembrowski then elected to bring in Patrick D’Amico to pinch hit, and it was the right move as D’Amico laced a single to center that plated two runs. Silas Reed came in for the Lake Monsters and secured the third out, but the damage was done.
The Lake Monsters rallied as two base hits and an error loaded the bags before a hit by Brian Schaub tied the game. Kevin Zarnoch Jr. replaced Sinibaldi, and drew a double play ball and induced a groundout back to the mound to keep the game tied 2-2.
Jackson Hornung then led off the seventh with a bang, drilling the first pitch of the frame to right center for his fourth triple of the season. Burnett followed, but it was Reed who helped Westfield go back ahead, uncorking a wild pitch that allowed Hornung to come home and put the Starfires up 3-2.
From there, the bullpen and defense locked in. Ryan Molinari made a spectacular diving catch for the first out in the bottom of the seventh, and Gunnar Johnson picked a runner off of first for the second out before Zarnoch fanned Cooper Kelly to end the inning. Zach Nichols worked around a one-out walk in the eighth, and Shayne Audet sat down the side in the ninth in order – including another diving Molinari catch, this time in left field – to shut the door on the win.
“It was a good overall game. Every pitcher went in and threw strikes. We had a next-man-up mentality, clutch hitting, and those great plays by Molinari,” Audet said of the team’s showing.
“It was a little windy today so I was trying to get good reads on the ball. Our pitchers were outstanding today so we all wanted to sell out and get it done on defense,” Molinari said after the contest.
Zarnoch was the winning pitcher, allowing just a single in his two frames; Audet gathered his first save of the campaign.
The Starfires next open a week of five home games at Bullens Field with a 6:35 p.m. contest on Tuesday, July 12 against the Nashua Silver Knights. Among the upcoming home games is Saturday, July 16 at 1:00 p.m. against the Worcester Bravehearts that will be aired on NESN.
For the latest on the team, be sure to follow the Starfires on Twitter and Instagram @starfiresbb, and visit us on the web at westfieldstarfires.com.