Starfires recognize 30 on Fifth Anniversary Team

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (February 20, 2024) – The Westfield Starfires, proud members of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, announced on Tuesday, February 20 the franchise’s Fifth Anniversary Team, comprised of players who played for the team during the first five seasons of competition since the franchise was founded on this day in 2019.

“In a relatively short time, we have had tremendous talent come through the Westfield community, with numerous FCBL All-Stars and award winners as well as a significant number of draft picks and professional signees,” noted team owner Chris Thompson. “Paring down the list to this elite group was a challenge, which speaks to the dedication and hard work of those fantastic athletes and the coaches and staff we have had through the first half-decade of our franchise’s history.”

The roster is comprised of 30 players, with a total of 14 pitchers and two players at each other field position. Consideration was given to on-field performance in a Starfires uniform, including compiled statistics, and team and league awards won.

Behind the plate, the Starfires Fifth Anniversary Team boasts two FCBL All-Star catchers in Jackson Hornung and Jack Power. Both spent the 2022 season with Westfield, and while both played other positions on the field – Hornung at first and Power at second – the duo was most noted for their skill behind the plate. Hornung hit a league-best .363 with a then-Starfires record nine home runs and 45 RBI, earning First-Team All-FCBL status, while Power hit .269 and put up a .389 on-base percentage.

At first base, two of the most prolific bats in league history wore Westfield’s blue and earned spots in Cole Bartels and Nick Serce. Bartels was the 2021 FCBL MVP after hitting an astounding .389 with a franchise-record .505 on-base percentage, and also became Westfield’s first FCBL Home Run Derby champion. Serce smashed a franchise-record 13 home runs and drove in 41 with a .306 average, earning FCBL All-Star MVP honors. Both were First-Team All-FCBL selections in their respective seasons.

The middle of the infield features more star power, with Drew DeMartino and Hunter Pasqualini taking the second base spots, and Jaden Brown and Brendan Jones occupying shortstop. DeMartino was a 2020 Second-Team All-FCBL selection who hit .306 in his lone campaign with the team, while Pasqualini was a .299 hitter in 2021, earning First-Team All-FCBL as a utility player as well as the Adam Keenan Award. Brown was a First-Team All-FCBL honoree in 2021, driving in 33 and hitting .336, while Jones took Second-Team All-FCBL accolades in 2022 playing all across the infield while hitting .333.

The hot corner features two of the most popular players in Starfires history, being held down by Dan Burnett and Christian Walsh. Burnett is Westfield’s all-time games played leader with 90 across the 2022 and 2023 season, compiling 69 hits and driving in 40, while Walsh was the starter on the inaugural 2019 team, driving in 34 runs and smacking six home runs and ten doubles among 45 hits in 52 games.

Six outfielders were named, bringing a combination of hitting, speed, and defense to Bullens Field with Christian Beal, Kiernan Caffrey, Danny Crossen, Luca Giallongo, Thomas Joyce, and Ryan Molinari all earning spots. Beal was a .321 hitter on the 2021 team with 20 walks to just 10 strikeouts to earn a place in the FCBL All-Star Game. Caffrey was also an FCBL All-Star and Second-Team All-FCBL selection in 2023, hitting .302 and posting a .412 on-base percentage at the top of the Starfires order. Crossen was part of the 2019 and 2020 teams, playing a then-record 81 games for the Starfires and becoming one of the team’s first All-FCBL selections with a Second-Team nod during the inaugural campaign and the Adam Keenan Award in 2020.

Giallongo sparkled in his 2022 season at Bullens, running to Second-Team All-FCBL status with a franchise record 24 stolen bases and a .321 average while leading off for Westfield. Joyce won the FCBL batting title in Westfield’s inaugural season, hitting .370 and garnering First-Team All-FCBL status. Molinari was a two-year Starfire in 2022 and 2023, combining to hit .333 in his two seasons with Westfield.

As great as the hitters are, the Fifth Anniversary Team holds just as much pitching talent.

Audet is the all-time strikeouts leader in both Westfield and the FCBL in general, with 121 fanned for Westfield in 2021, 2022, and 2023 out of 179 FCBL strikeouts; the team’s Pitcher of the Year Award is named honor of the 2022 Adam Keenan Award selection. Clevenger was one of Westfield’s strongest bullpen arms in 2021, throwing 30.1 innings and striking out 36 in 20 appearances. Crawford was named the FCBL’s Top Pro Pitching Prospect in 2020 and went on to become the franchise’s first ever Draft pick, going in the first round in 2022 Draft.

Dombkowski made six starts in the 2020 season, with a 3.18 ERA for the Starfires, and is the first Starfire to reach the AAA level of pro baseball, doing so in 2023 with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Fox was a Second-Team All-FCBL selection in 2019, setting a then-league record with 79 strikeouts. Gallagher was on both the 2019 and 2020 teams, striking out 39 in 35 innings as both a starter and reliever before going on to be drafted by the Blue Jays in 2022.

Jeter was a two-year Starfire in 2019 and 2020, with 66 strikeouts in 16 appearances over two campaigns; his 1.75 earned run average in 2020 gained him a First-Team All-FCBL nod. Krol and Perez were both likewise two-year Starfires, working out of Westfield’s bullpen in 2022 and 2023. Krol whiffed 68 hitters while Perez cut down 44 in their two campaigns.

Roman made 26 relief appearances in 2020 and 2021 combined, with an incredible 2021 campaign that saw him post a 0.00 earned run average as the team’s closer, the best in the league. Sinibaldi was a Second-Team All-FCBL selection on Westfield’s 2022 squad, with a 2.93 earned run average and 43 strikeouts in nine appearances including seven starts. Taylor was also a Second-Team All-FCBL honoree, earning it in 2020 with a 4-0 record and 1.61 earned run average.

Thivierge, a 2021 Starfire, struck out 62 in 59.1 innings in his season at Bullens, authoring the only no-hitter in franchise history on the final day of the season in a dominating performance against Norwich. Zarnoch was a two-time FCBL All-Star in 2022 and 2023, with 13 starts and 24 appearances overall, compiling 77 strikeouts in 87.2 innings.

The sixth season for the Westfield Starfires begins on Opening Day, May 24 at 10:30 a.m. against the Worcester Bravehearts at Bullens Field, and Opening Night will be June 1 at 6:30 p.m. against the Nashua Silver Knights.

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