WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (July 15, 2022) – The postgame fireworks display was outstanding, yet it had nothing on the show the Westfield Starfires put on at Bullens Field Friday night.
Down 6-1 early, and trailing by four heading into the bottom of the eighth, the hometown squad loaded five runs onto the board, capped by a walk-off single by Daniel Burnett to edge the Brockton Rox, 9-8, on July 16 in front of a season-high crowd of 2136.
Westfield stands at 21-21 on the season.
Westfield opened the scoring in the third as Cooper Johnson not only beat out a grounder to third, but took second thanks to the throw getting past the first baseman for the Rox. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Brendan Jones groundout.
However, the Rox exploded for six in the fourth. Brockton sent ten men to the plate, including Cody Kashimoto, who knocked a two-run single, and Liam Foley, who drilled a two-run triple to right.
With two outs in the fifth, Jones hit a flare to right that fell just inside the line. That prompted the Rox to make a pitching change, but Tommy O’Sullivan was greeted by Jackson Hornung, who singled up the middle before Jack Power crushed a line-drive home run over the right field fence on a 3-1 fastball, cutting the deficit to 6-4.
The Rox pushed the lead back to four in the seventh, compiling two hits and a walk to load the bases before Bronson Balholm singled to right to drive in D’Angelo Ortiz and Peter Messervy. Westfield shut the threat down from there, but Westfield faced an 8-4 deficit, and in the bottom half, a two-on, one out situation ended abruptly on a double play.
In the eighth, however, Westfield rallied. Power walked, and Patrick D’Amico followed with a base hit. Burnett walked to pack the bags, the first of four straight walks, as Burnett, Ryan Lavelle, and Luca Giallongo all drew RBI without putting the ball in play. With the score 8-7, Alonso was picked off third to end the inning with the bat in Hornung’s hand, seemingly squashing the momentum.
Zach Nichols held the Rox off the board, going 1-2-3 to keep the deficit at one. Hornung returned to the plate to lead off the ninth and launched a towering solo shot over the Bullens Field scoreboard in left, tying the game. Gunnar Johnson walked, and was replaced by Jack Wentworth on the basepaths. D’Amico followed with a single, and took second on the throw to third that was not able to get Wentworth. Nathan Lincoln was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Burnett. He delivered, lining a 2-2 pitch over the head of Foley to plate Wentworth and set the team and crowd into a frenzy.
“Put the ball in play. That’s all I was” thinking about,” said Burnett of the walk-off hit. “With two strikes, I’m just trying to put something in play,” he added.
“Unreal performance start to finish. Considering the hole that we dug ourselves into early, it was impressive to see contributions from everyone. Our pitching kept us in the game and we grinded out at bat after at bat when we had runners on. This group is really fun to watch,” manager Kyle Dembrowski said after the game.
Now the team will turn its attention to Saturday afternoon’s contest. The Starfires will play host to the Worcester Bravehearts, and all of New England will see what the team and the city of Westfield is about, with the 1:00 p.m. contest to be broadcast on the New England Sports Network.
“It’s gonna be pretty cool. I’m from ten minutes away from here, so it’s special,” Burnett said of playing 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.