WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (August 1, 2023) – Facing the team they were chasing for the final playoff spot, the Westfield Starfires used a team-wide push to win the day, as all nine hitters reached safely and strong pitching secured a 6-3 win over the New Britain Bees at the Richards Jewelers Diamond at Billy Bullens Field on Tuesday, August 1.
Westfield is now 28-27 on the season.
New Britain took the lead early on as Freddy Forgione, Bryce Molinaro, and Tanner Santos all collected singles in the second inning, the last of which drove in the game’s first run. Two batters later, a Gavin Greger double to right increased the advantage to 3-0.
In the home half, Westfield counterpunched. On a 2-2 swing with two outs, Isaiah Pinkney hit a towering fly to left that carried over the scoreboard and out of the park, giving the Rutgers University product his first home run of the season.
An inning later, the offense came alive. Josh Frometa earned a six-pitch walk, and his presence forced the defense to cover against a steal attempt. That opened a hole in the right side that Frometa’s American International College teammate Kiernan Caffrey exploited for a first-pitch single. With the duo aboard, Luke Masiuk singled to bring Frometa in. He and Caffrey both advanced on a passed ball in Nick Serce’s plate appearance, which in turn allowed Serce’s fly to left to score Caffrey and tie the game.
Westfield was not done there. Dan Burnett, playing in his franchise-record 82nd game, singled, and Jake Risedorf walked to load the bases, forcing the Bees to make a pitching change. It did not help, as Pinkney took four consecutive balls to walk in Masiuk for the go-ahead run, and Michael Breen lined a single to left to bring Burnett in for a 5-3 advantage.
Now ahead, the Starfires needed to hold on. Ryan Bailey did concede an infield hit and two walks in the fifth to load the bases, but induced a flyout to end the threat, and Brian Dowling twirled three nearly flawless innings of relief to push the game closer to a conclusion.
In the seventh, the Starfires added one more insurance run. Serce smacked a 2-2 pitch to right field that seemed to be playable, but carried past the fence for his league-leading and franchise-best 13th home run of the summer.
Zach Nichols pitched the ninth, working around a walk and striking out both Greger and Jimmy Keenan for the save.
Bailey’s final line in the win was 5.0 innings with three runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts; including his strikeout in the FCBL All-Star Game, he leads the league with 60 on the season. Dowling allowed no runs on three hits in 3.0 innings, fanning three.
The Starfires next play two at Dodd Stadium against the Norwich Sea Unicorns. First pitch for the opening game of the doubleheader is set for 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 2.