Mountaineer Offense Twice Overwhelms Westerners En Route to Doubleheader Sweep

After scoring seven runs in an electrifying Opening Day win against the Ocean State Waves, the Danbury Westerners mustered just six hits and four runs in 14 combined innings as the Vermont Mountaineers completed the doubleheader sweep at the Roadhouse at Rogers Park.

Despite one regular-season meeting remaining between the two teams, the Mountaineers took the season series against the Westerners with the sweep, improving to 3-0 on the young 2023 season. Danbury falls to 1-2 after three games, one game worse than their 2-1 start from the 2022 campaign.

Across both contests, Vermont outfielder Aaron Whitley touched home plate five times on four hits, while no other Mountaineer scored more than three times or recorded more than three base knocks. No Westerner recorded more than one hit between both matches, with the only extra-base hits being back-to-back doubles in the second game.

Danbury drew first blood in the first inning of Game 1, scoring an unearned run after Mike Becchetti reached both second and third base on infield errors, then touched home plate on Drew Wyers’ RBI single. That Westerner advantage lasted until the third inning, when Vermont tied the contest on a wild pitch with Grant Voytovich at the plate. When the Bucknell outfielder walked to load the bases again, Brandon Butterworth took the green light for a two-run single as Danbury faced their first deficit of the season.

Westerner starter Michael Szturma got out of the jam with two straight flyouts, but even with the Southern Connecticut State righty retiring eight out of the last nine batters he faced, Jack Metzger had the more dominant outing. After a turbulent first inning, the Dartmouth righty bounced back by recording 13 straight outs, quelling any attempt by the Hat City to come back in the contest.

The Mountaineers put the first leg of the doubleheader out of reach in the top of the sixth. With Jack Keenan on in relief, Santino Rosso singled on a payoff pitch and scored standing up when Nathan Waugh doubled to centerfield on the very next pitch. After staying in place for one batter, the Cornell catcher advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring when pinch hitter Evan Fox hit a sacrifice fly. Both Whitley and Jace Jeremiah walked during Waugh’s time on the basepaths, scoring when Cantwell turned an 0-2 count into a two-run single. Both Becchetti and Harrison Feinberg walked in the bottom half, but their efforts were for naught as Valentino Taddei got the next two hitters out in quick fashion.

Vermont added one more run in the top of the seventh without recording a hit as Rosso walked, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Nate Stocum sacrifice fly. Anthony Steele walked on a full count in the bottom half, but Jack Sylvia mitigated the threat with a strikeout and a flyout to secure the 8-1 Mountaineer win.

Neither team posted a crooked number in the first inning of the second game, but Vermont broke the stalemate in a big way in the second when George Rosales’ first swing in a Mountaineer uniform sent a baseball into the ditch beyond left field for a three-run homer. A series of misfortunes in the outfield turned things from bad to worse for Danbury in the third inning. Within four pitches, Vermont had two runners aboard after Billy Gerlott came up just short on a diving attempt in shallow right field and had a ball drop out of his glove close to the right field wall. Even with second-game starter John Rizzo striking out Tyler Cox, both runners moved up a base on a hit by pitch before a fielder’s choice and RBI single brought them both home.

Jakobi Davis snapped the Westerners’ eight-inning (across two games) hitting drought with a double that landed in left field. He subsequently ended the team’s scoreless drought when Javon Hernandez hit a screaming double that stayed just to the right of the third base foul line. Both teams went down in order in the fourth, but once Rizzo allowed a first-pitch single and a walk, manager Conor Farrell relieved him for Capital University senior Curtis Clark.

Clark did not fare much better than Rizzo did, allowing an RBI double and tossing a wild pitch to each of the first two batters he faced. With three runs already in and the Adelphi righty’s pitching line finalized, the Mountaineers scored their ninth run when Rosales picked up his fourth RBI of the nightcap.

To put the icing on the cake, Nathan Goranson hit Vermont’s second three-run homer of the game on a 1-2 count in the top of the seventh, and Rosso’s RBI single four batters later gave the Mountaineers their second four-run frame in three innings. Danbury had one last push in the bottom half as their first two runners touched home plate on a double play and a single, but the deficit was insurmountable as Vermont completed the doubleheader sweep 13-3.

In the first game, Szturma took the loss for the Westerners after allowing three runs in five innings, while Metzger took the victory with four strikeouts on just 56 pitches in five innings. Eddie Smink grabbed the win in the second contest with four innings and 46 pitches of one-run ball, while Rizzo got credited with the loss after allowing seven runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings despite striking out four.

Following a day off on June 9, Danbury looks to reenergize their offense against the Bristol Blues (1-1) in the fourth part of their five-game homestand. Like the Mountaineers, Bristol concluded the 2022 regular season at a league-best 32-12 and finished 10 games ahead of second place in their division. CCSU righthander TJ Wainwright gets the nod in the first of three battles between these West Division foes at Rogers Park with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Submitted by New Fairfield, CT

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