WESTFIELD, Massachusetts (May 26) – Twice, they were down to their final out. Once, they were even down to their final strike.
But the Westfield Starfires showed the meaning of “Bullens Magic,” pulling off three comebacks before defeating the defending Futures Collegiate Baseball League Champion Vermont Lake Monsters in a home run derby after the score was 6-6 through 10 innings at Bullens Field on Thursday, May 26.
“We’re a resilient group. We just know we’re never out of any game,” said Jackson Hornung, the hero of the game who drove in three runs on 3-of-5 including a triple and then won the deciding home run derby.
Down 4-0 in the fifth, Hornung narrowly missed a grand slam, hitting a deep flyout to right that was caught in front of the fence but allowed Javvy Irizzary to score from third. Then the Bullens Magic really started.
In the seventh, Jakob Cohn was hit by the first pitch of the frame. Alex Sorrenti-Burns reached by being hit as well after falling behind 0-2 in the count. Luca Giallongo drove a ball at second base, but Donovan Montgomery misplayed it, turning a double play into a run as well as giving Westfield first and third. Two batters later, Hornung came to bat and hit a thundering shot to the center-field fence, tying the game with a triple.
The Lake Monsters regained the lead, 5-4, in the eighth; Montgomery redeemed himself for the error with an RBI single. That lead lasted into the ninth, but Ryan Molinari reached on an infield single to third, and Hornung followed with a base hit of his own. Wyatt Cameron recovered to strike out Brendan Jones, and had Nolan Florence down 0-2 before the second-year Starfire flared a hit to right center to tie the game and force extras.
In the 10th, the Lake Monsters took the lead again. Jordan Kelly was hit by a pitch, and then sacrificed over. Jackson Kline singled to left to move Kelly to third, and then Kelly came home on a wild pitch. John DiGirolamo struck out the final two batters of the inning to keep it at one run, but Cameron struck out the first two Starfires batters. Jack Wentworth stepped up to the plate with his team down to its last strike and wasted no time, crushing the first pitch he saw over the center-field wall to tie the game once more.
In the home run derby, Andrew Kanellis hit for Vermont, and managed a single shot over the wall. That gave Hornung the chance to win it for Westfield, and he needed very little time, fouling off his first swing before crushing the next two pitches over the wall to left to give the Starfires an opening-day win.
The two squads will square off again, this time in Burlington, Vermont, on Friday, May 27 at 6:35 p.m. The Starfires then return home for Opening Night against their Western Massachusetts rival, the Pittsfield Suns, on Saturday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.