WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (July 23, 2022) – The Westfield Starfires defeated the Pittsfield Suns 16-6 by way of the run rule in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League matchup Friday evening at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield.
With the win, the Starfires move to 24-25 on the season and remain in the fourth and final playoff spot.
After a brief sun delay, the Starfires and Suns each scored a run in the second inning. Gunnar Johnson led off the Starfires half of the inning with a single before advancing to third on a Ryan Molinari double and coming home on a passed ball from Suns starting pitcher Jacob Ribitzki. Then with two outs in the Suns half of the inning, Derek Paris reached on a ball that tipped off Starfires third baseman Brendan Jones’ glove, coming home on a Christian Limon double to right field, tying the game at one through two innings of play.
In the third inning, the Starfires quickly retook the lead. Daniel Burnett singled before Brian Norsen drove in Burnett and himself with a two-run home run to left center field, putting the Starfires up 3-1.
“I just needed to get into a rhythm,” Norsen said about his home run. “I felt really good in [batting practice] so I thought I was seeing the ball well and I was just trying to make solid contact and wherever it went, it went.”
The Suns hit a home run of their own in the fourth inning, this one a Drew Metzdorf solo shot to left field to cut the Starfires lead to one, making the score 3-2. In the fifth inning, the Suns tied the game at three when Sean McGee hit a two out single to drive in Caleb Shpur, who tripled to center field just before.
The sixth inning saw 10 Westfield runs cross the plate, putting the game out of reach for the Suns. Burnett and Norsen led off the inning with a walk and single before Johnson knocked a single to right field to drive in Burnett. Molinari then singled to drive in Norsen and Ryan Lavelle walked to load the bases. Brendan Jones also drew a walk to score Johnson and Molinari scored on a passed ball a few pitches later. Noah Campanelli was then hit by the pitch to reload the bases, bringing up Burnett, who once again drew a walk to score Lavelle. Norsen then drew another walk to tack on another run and Johnson singled to drive in two more. Another passed ball allowed Norsen to score again, and two stolen bases by Johnson, including home, put the Starfires up 13-3.
The Suns added three runs in their half of the sixth inning on a two-run triple from Brennan Hyde, who then came home on a Paris groundout, making the score 13-6.
The Starfires offense did not stop in the top of the seventh, reextending their lead to 10 runs. Nathan Lincoln singled and Jones and Campanelli each drew another walk before Norsen came to the plate and ripped a three-run double to clear the bases, putting the Starfires up 16-6 and awarding them the win in seven innings via the run rule.
Justin Sinibaldi started the game for the Starfires and earned the win, pitching five innings and giving up six runs, five earned, on eight hits with five strikeouts. Tim Krol pitched the final two innings of relief, only allowing two hits and two walks, striking out one.
“[Today’s win] was huge,” Norsen said about the victory. “We have a tough schedule coming up so to get a win like this is really important, gets us closer to .500, and keeps us in the hunt.”
The playoff push for the Starfires continues as they will travel to take on Norwich tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. Westfield has a 2.5 game edge over the Sea Unicorns for the final postseason berth, and the matchup is the last of the season between the two.
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.