Baseball is a dynamic sport where a team can score runs on a barrage of hits one day and produce next to nothing at the plate the next. Following an 11-run outburst against the previously undefeated Newport Gulls, the Danbury Westerners’ offense sank against the Mystic Schooners, recording just two hits in a 3-2 defeat at Thomas J. Dodd Stadium.
With the loss in their first road game of the summer, Danbury falls to .500 at 3-3 and has lost four straight contests against Mystic dating back to 2021. Successfully defending Dodd Stadium for the first time this season, the Schooners ended their second two-game losing streak as they improved to 3-4 and find themselves a half-game back of the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks in the Coastal Division standings.
Everett Catlett worked around a leadoff walk to send the Westerners down in order to start the evening, and Mystic subsequently followed suit by grabbing their first lead in Norwich in the bottom half. Following a leadoff first-pitch groundout from Caleb Shpur, Julian Stevens and Bobby Marsh singled on consecutive pitches to put runners on the corners. Three pitches later, third-year Schooner Addison Kopack whacked a 1-1 pitch down the line all the way to the outfield wall, clearing the bases for a two-run double.
The Rhode Island utility player stayed on second base despite there being one out, but Mystic extended their lead the following inning after Danbury starter Pat Gleason recorded two quick outs. Two pitches after JT Navyac hit a two-out single, Shpur collected his first hit and RBI in a Schooner uniform with a double down the other foul line for the three-run advantage, bringing in a runner from first for the second straight frame.
Two consecutive hits with two away put Gleason in a jam in the third, but Becchetti touched second base on a Maddix Dalena grounder to help his starting pitcher escape with a clean frame. Luke Boynton walked to snap Catlett’s stretch of retiring 11 straight batters with two down in the fourth, but a popout to second base prevented the Georgia State senior from moving any further than first base.
Aidan Jolley’s two-out walk in the fifth resulted in another scoreless inning for the Westerner offense, and Mystic nearly capitalized in the bottom half. Marsh got the signal to score from second base when Kopack ripped a single to right field, but Harrison Feinberg’s throw gunned down the Penn State outfielder at home plate to give Gleason a significant second out. Even with Kopack stealing second, the Pace righty worked his third consecutive scoreless frame when Landon Moran popped out to left field.
With Fenix DiGiacomo taking over for Catlett in the sixth, Danbury’s offense woke up from its unexpected slumber and put the reliever in a pickle almost instantly. Following two consecutive five-pitch walks, Bobby Zmarzlak continued to make an immediate impact as he broke the Westerners’ hitting drought with a 2-2 pitch that landed in left centerfield, bringing both runners home standing up and cutting the Schooners’ lead to one. The Maryland senior advanced to third when Boynton hit a sacrifice fly, but his time on the basepaths ended with Daniel Labrador at the dish.
Labrador almost had his second two-run jack in as many games on an 0-1 count, but the ball hooked very left of the foul pole. The Stetson catcher’s next pitch got snagged by Kopack, who ended Zmarzlak’s time on the basepaths before throwing the ball well beyond Dalena’s reach at first base. Unable to get out of the frame with a double play, DiGiacomo got pulled for Stony Brook righty Quinlan Montgomery, who stranded the game-tying run in scoring position by getting Drew Wyers to fly out to left field.
Each team went down in order over the next three half-innings, all with relievers in the game, but Danbury earned another chance to tie the game after Becchetti walked for a third time and stole second in the top of the eighth against TJ Melani. Despite reaching third on a wild pitch, the Westerners stranded their second runner in scoring position in three innings when Boynton popped up to the catcher. Although they recorded eight hits across the first five innings, George Viebrock III concluded his first appearance in a Hat City jersey by striking out the side, keeping the game close enough in the hopes that Danbury would tie things up and possibly force extra innings. Closer Jay Allmer entered in the ninth, and despite a two-out infield single from Feinberg for the team’s second hit, Jolley grounded out directly to the pitcher’s mound as the Seton Hall righty collected his third save in seven contests.
Gleason took the loss after allowing all three Mystic runs in five innings on eight hits with four punchouts. Viebrock III worked three scoreless innings in relief, striking out six of the nine hitters he faced on just 41 pitches. Catlett picked up his first win of the summer after tossing five hitless innings and allowing just three walks to the 18 batters he faced on 66 pitches. In a quick two-hour and 12-minute match, Becchetti went 0-1 with three walks and a run for the Westerners, while Kopack went 2-4 with two runs batted in for the Schooners.
Danbury returns home for their second of four matchups at the Roadhouse at Rogers Park against the Bristol Blues (2-4) on June 15, looking to improve to 2-0 in the newly-established battle for the Mayor’s Cup between the two West Division rivals in 2023. The Blues have gone 1-1 with eight runs scored since their last meeting on June 10, but have had the last two days off due to rain postponing a scheduled bout with the Upper Valley Nighthawks. Michael Szturma gets the nod for his second start on a Thursday this year with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m.
The rest of the Danbury Westerners’ 2023 schedule can be found on their website.