DANBURY, CT—The Danbury Westerners walked off against the Newport Gulls 10-7 in their 2021 NECBL Regular Season Finale.
Westerners (23-19) hitters combined for four home runs off of Newport (22-20) pitching including a walk off grand slam from Jake Roper in the bottom of the ninth. Cal Parillo had two home runs on the night for the Gulls, who also scored four in the top of the ninth to force the Westerners to play with their backs against the wall in the final half inning.
Jack Payton started the night off for the Westerners by floating a ball onto Memorial Drive in right field for a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. Matt Zaffino followed with a solo round-tripper of his own to Memorial Drive in the bottom of the second to make the score 3-0 Danbury.
Newport scored on their first hit in the top of the fourth thanks to a Cal Parillo solo home run to left field.
Nick Lorusso slapped a solo home run of his own in the bottom of the fourth to regain a three run Danbury lead. Lorusso added his second RBI on a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded to give Danbury a 5-1 lead.
Newport’s right handed hitting designated hitter Cal Pirillo pulled his second home run of the night in the top of the sixth inning with a two-run shot.
The score remained 5-3 into the ninth inning, where nine total runs were scored between both teams.
Gulls second baseman Dawson Brigman first got on for the Gulls with a one out walk before advancing on a wild pitch that also gave Bryce Hulett a free base on balls. Grayson Moore loaded the Newport bases after an infield error from Danbury. Kenny Oyama followed with an RBI single to bring home Brigman and cut the Westerners lead to one. Hulett scored unearned on a second infield error while Sam Cochrane moved to first base for Newport. After a quick pop out for the second out in the inning, Matthew Wood flew the Gulls over the Danbury lead with a two-RBI single that scored Oyama and Moore. Cal Purillo eventually groundout out 6-4 to end the top of the ninth with a 7-5 Newport lead.
Danbury showed life in the bottom half of the ninth as Banks Griffith and Jack Payton each swatted singles to lead off the inning, leading to Nicholas Conte being removed as the Gulls pitcher for Chris Aldrich. Aldrich showed command issues early on in his appearance, walking Andrew Jenkins and throwing a wild pitch which scored Banks Griffith from third. Jake Roper then stepped into the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Roper slugged a ball over the fence in left center field for a grand slam to give Danbury a 10-7 win. Roper’s no-doubt shot secured a 7-0 season series sweep for Danbury against the Newport Gulls while making it the second game against Newport this season where the Westerners came from behind to win on a walk off grand slam.
To add to the festivities, Roper’s grand slam landed right next to his father who was watching the game from the outfield. He was later able to get hold of the ball that his son had crushed to win the game.
After the game, Roper reiterated John Anderson’s quote that the Danbury Westerners were the “grittiest team in the NECBL,” heading into the playoffs.
“We might mess around and win it all.” Roper said.
The Danbury Westerners will host their first NECBL playoff game since 2012 on August 3rd against the Newport Gulls with a spot in the NECBL South Division Semifinals on the line. The game will be livestreamed on the NECBL Network.