WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (July 20, 2022) – The Westfield Starfires used their second dominant pitching performance in as many days to defeat the Norwich Sea Unicorns 4-0 in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League matchup Wednesday morning at Bullens Field.
With the win, the Starfires move to 23-24 on the season and gain one game on the Sea Unicorns to remain in fourth place in the league standings and remain in possession of the final playoff spot.
The Starfires got out to a quick lead in the first inning when Brendan Jones and Jackson Hornung led off the game with back-to-back singles. Then, with two outs, Ryan Molinari drew a walk to load the bases. Gunnar Johnson came to the plate and hit the ball weakly toward third, but right along the line. Jones scored, and Norwich pitcher Jack Kabel made the mistake of throwing to first and sailed it wide. Jones, recognizing the errant throw, bolted home, and Molinari followed; Sea Unicorns first baseman Matt Flaherty also missed the target trying to catch Molinari at the plate, turning an infield single into a 3-0 Westfield lead.
The lead was extended to four in the fourth inning when Nathan Lincoln singled and came home on a Hornung double to left field, collecting his league leading 42nd RBI.
Starfires starter Alex Perez followed up his New England College teammate Shayne Audet’s dominant pitching performance yesterday with one of his own, going six scoreless innings and allowing two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
“The goal today was to attack batters all day, just get ahead early,” Perez said after the victory. “I knew I had a strong defense behind me so that always helps out. You just have to trust your guys, trust what you have, and just put it out there.”
Kevin Zarnoch Jr. was also dominant in his three innings of relief, also allowing two hits and striking out three batters to earn the save.
Starfires Manager Kyle Dembrowski not only praised his pitching but was proud of what the team did at the plate. “Our at-bats were probably the best of the year start to finish in terms of grinding out at-bats. We had two in a row that looked like they were 8+ pitch at-bats,” Dembrowski said. “Just a good job by guys today grinding out at-bats, catching their pitchers, [and] making us get to their bullpen.”
With the All-Star Game next week and only 16 games remaining in the regular season, Dembrowski emphasized the importance of pitching, extending at-bats, and winning games on the road. “Every game is going to matter now at this point, so we are just going to have to take it one game at a time, hope we get a good performance out of our starter… and give us a chance to win,” Dembrowski said. “That’s the good thing about our offense, it’s just a matter of time before something happens so as long as our bullpen and starting pitcher can keep us in the game; it’s going to be our bats hopefully that can take us toward the end.”
The Starfires will begin a stretch of six road games starting tomorrow with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch against the Vermont Lake Monsters at Centennial Field.
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.