By Benjamin Upson
The June swoon is coming to a close across the Futures League as we are not too far from the midpoint of the season! The competition continues to amp up, so let’s look back at this exciting past week.
We start with the Vermont Lake Monsters who eclipsed 22 wins this past week in the 2022 season and continue to show no signs of stopping anytime soon. They continue to defend their title in stellar fashion. A pair of wins against the Pittsfield Suns and New Britain Bees headlined their week.
They continue to show their skills on offense as they passed 15 runs twice over the course of this past week. They’ve relied on the bats of Jackson Kline (Kansas, .366 average), Jimmy Evans (Tufts, .342) and Ryan Marra (Brown, .342). They rank in the top 10 for both batting average and RBI so far this season.
The Lake Monsters hold head-to-head tiebreakers over every team in the league except for the Westfield Starfires, as they are tied 2-2 in the season series. We will see both of those teams playing each other a lot going forward as they have eight meetings remaining this season. We’ve talked about their resiliency in the past, but Friday’s win over Nashua verified that statement perfectly.
After starting pitcher Jonah Wachter (Tulane) put on another stellar seven-inning shutout to keep the game at 1-0, Vermont got to the Silver Knights bullpen in the ninth inning. A bases-clearing triple by Harrison Didawick (Virginia) and two-run home run by Connor Bowman (Tufts) contributed to a five-run inning to sink Nashua by a score of 5-1. Their lead in first place now sits at a lengthy seven games as we end the month of June.
There were some unique comebacks that happened across the league this past week over multiple games. It began on Tuesday with a thrilling comeback between the Westfield Starfires and Nashua Silver Knights. Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th, Nashua was able to rally off a pinch-hit RBI double from Jake Cooper (Penn State) The game ended 8-7 with a walk-off hit by pitch surrendered by John DiGirolamo (Springfield) of the Starfires.
On Friday, the New Britain Bees took on the Worcester Bravehearts. Trailing by a score of 4-2 in the eighth inning, things started buzzing on the bases. Zach Donahue (Eastern Connecticut State), a member of the 2021 team is back for another summer, and got the rally started with an RBI single. Joel Lara (Franklin Pierce), who has been stellar all year, got a bit of luck with an error by Bravehearts center fielder Matty Warren that allowed for two more runs to come in and score. Emmett Tolis (Fairfield) then came in for the ninth to seal the comeback victory and a 5-4 New Britain win.
One other matchup to note from Friday was against the Norwich Sea Unicorns and Brockton Rox. It was a great pitcher’s duel between John Archer (St. Thomas Aquinas) of Brockton and Jack Kabel (Nichols) of Norwich. Both tossed scoreless outings, and allowed just seven hits combined; Archer struck out nine, Kabel upped him with 12. Brockton scored four runs before Kabel came in to relieve starting pitcher Spencer Fox (Southern Connecticut State). Peter Messervy (Harvard) knocked a bases-clearing triple to left field that put the Rox up for good.
There are some new developments ramping up for the Pittsfield Suns. The city of Pittsfield has begun planning out the future of Wahconah Park. Joining the morning show on LIVE 95.9 FM Pittsfield last Thursday, city mayor Linda Tyer stated, “I'm gonna be submitting an order to the city council to create the Wahconah Park design committee, so that we can really undertake an analysis of the situation and think about the future of Wahconah Park…I wanna see that entire structure bulldozed and something new built.” More details will be announced by Tyer later this week as she begins to develop further plans.
It’s time for another round of weekly awards. The 78 Sports Player of the Week is awarded to Marra. Powered behind .455 average with a week-leading 10 hits, five of them for extra bases, one home run and eight RBI, it wasn’t tough to pick him out of the crowd for the top performer this week, as he’s a big part of why Vermont got back on another winning streak.
The ChangeUp Pitcher of the Week is awarded to Kabel. Although his one start was a loss, he laid it all on the line tossing six scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits with 12 strikeouts. Kabel does not have a win yet this season as he stands at 0-2 and holds a 3.05 ERA in five games, but was the highlight of the week for Norwich’s pitching staff, unfortunately in that 4-0 loss to Brockton.
We remind you to stay tuned for the upcoming announcements of the Futures League's 78 Sports Player of the Month, ChangeUp Pitcher of the Month and Zorian Team of the Month. Many players have already shown out in the opening half of the season, making for some challenging decisions on who to select.
As we near the midpoint of the season, it’s time to start looking closer at the standings. While Vermont leads the way in first place and Brockton is sitting down in last, the race is wide open between the second and seventh-place spots on the board. Those six teams consist of Westfield, New Britain, Worcester, Norwich, Pittsfield and Nashua, who are separated by only four games. We are in for a good month of July baseball!
Around The Diamond is back and will continue on a weekly basis. Here you’ll find some of the unique notes and information from around the league’s action. For the latest scores and statistics, visit thefuturesleague.com. If you are looking to live stream games across the league, go to fcblnetwork.com and purchase game packages custom made for you.