Across 1.5 summers in the Hat City, Braden Quinn almost always dominated on the mound but never had enough run support to earn a win. The UConn lefty’s most recent start nearly played out the same way after 5.5 innings of quick baseball at the Roadhouse at Rogers Park, but the Danbury Westerners’ offense made up for multiple games of not supporting him in the most electric way possible. Exploding for seven runs in the sixth behind back-to-back-to-back home runs, the Westerners gave Quinn a well-deserved victory in a 10-5 triumph over the Valley Blue Sox.
“Finally,” manager Conor Farrell said about Quinn’s first win. “It was like a boulder is off his shoulder.”
Danbury improved to 16-17 with the win, their third in a row and fifth in their last six games dating back to July 10. Valley fell to 16-15-1 and second in the West Division with the loss, snapping a streak of two consecutive contests requiring extra innings.
Eliot Dix dented a car behind the right field wall three pitches into the game for an immediate 1-0 Blue Sox lead, threatening for more on AJ Guerrero’s double three pitches later. Quinn recovered following both extra-base hits, striking out two and stranding the Washington left fielder at third. Luke Boynton beat out a potential inning-ending double play in the bottom half but fell to one knee in pain after the sequence ended. Will Cook replaced the Georgia State senior, who initially stayed in the game following the injury delay, in the second.
Facing the Westerners for the first time, Collier Cranford bopped an infield single, getting company in scoring position on Michael Zarrillo’s double. Jakobi Davis kept the Kansas shortstop at third with a rocket toward home on a flyout, watching as Efrain Correa Jr.’s groundout doubled Valley’s lead. The Blue Sox defense twice did Sean Scanlon no favors in the bottom half, letting Roman DiGiacomo’s single escape the infield and bobbling Hayden Miller’s grounder.
The Holy Cross righty stranded both runners with the 1-2-3 inning not possible, subsequently halting Danbury’s potential rally in the fourth on DiGiacomo’s double play. Two straight two-out singles put two on in the fifth, resulting in a Valley rally featuring nothing as Christopher Willis popped out. Javon Hernandez doubled off the right field wall in the bottom half, remaining in scoring position on Bam Talavera’s groundout. Zarrillo prevented Quinn from striking out the side in the sixth, barely zipping a line drive over the centerfield fence for a 3-0 Blue Sox advantage.
Matthew Bergevin relieved Scanlon in the bottom half, struggling right out of the gate as Cook walked on a full count. With a 3-1 count in his favor, Bobby Zmarzlak suddenly made it a one-run game with his eighth home run of the summer landing outside the deepest part of the park. Harrison Feinberg kept Westerners’ fans on the edge of their seats, tying the game at three with a deep opposite-field blast on the very next pitch off the Fairfield righty.
Fresh off his four-RBI performance against the North Adams SteepleCats, Billy Gerlott kept the fireworks going, barreling a 1-1 pitch toward another baseball field for his second home run in as many days and Danbury’s first lead of the evening. Davis dashed for an infield single and took second on Bergevin’s wily throw with two aboard and still nobody out, bringing in DiGiacomo as Talavera’s fielder’s choice with runners on the corners drove in another run. Already up once in the inning with two down, Cook’s sacrifice fly capped off the Westerners’ seven-run sixth involving exactly one Blue Sox mound visit and five base hits recorded.
“We took advantage [of their pitching] and did some damage,” hitting coach Bobby Rodriguez summarized about the frame. “We found barrels.”
Guerrero made sure Valley did not go down without a fight in the seventh, tattooing a 430-foot blast and making it a 7-4 game off Andrew Castelluccio. With DiGiacomo at the dish in the bottom half, Michael Weidinger faced the same issues that Bergevin did with one aboard. The Duke catcher gave Danbury its run back and more, clobbering a two-run shot toward the same area where Feinberg tied the game for a 9-4 advantage.
“It felt good to finally get my first home run at Rogers [Park],” DiGiacomo said about his second blast of the summer, both against the Blue Sox.
Miller stole second following his one-out walk, taking third for free after Correa Jr.’s lazy throw and scoring when Talavera torched an RBI double. Willis sliced the Westerners’ lead with a moonshot into the darkness in the eighth, eventually paving the way for a two-out rally. With runners on the corners without a base hit, Castelluccio escaped the jam as Correa Jr. grounded out. Carter Kelsey entered in the ninth, working around a two-out walk as Danbury tied the season series against the Blue Sox at three.
Quinn went six innings in his first Westerner win, recording another quality start with eight punchouts. Bergevin took the loss following a disastrous inning in which he surrendered seven runs (five earned) on three straight homers.
“It was awesome,” Quinn said after the game. “I think I knew I locked up the win in that [sixth] inning.”
Following a day off, Danbury treks to Fraser Field for a key bout with the North Shore Navigators (16-17) on July 17. Heading into Sunday’s games, the Navigators hold the final wild card spot in the NECBL playoffs over the Westerners via a tiebreaker, a 12-10 victory involving eight total homers. In a battle between two of the league’s hottest teams, Farrell has one goal in mind.
“They beat us in our park, so now it is our turn to beat them in their park.”
Jordan Falco gets the nod for the fourth time on a Monday with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The rest of the Danbury Westerners’ 2023 schedule can be found on their website.