By Benjamin Upson
Can you feel the playoff hunt on the horizon? With only three weeks of action left in the Futures League regular season, each game becomes even more important than the previous one. Let’s jump into the last week across league play!
Saturdays have certainly become a popular topic of conversation during the month of July as every NESN game has delivered a unique storyline. This past weekend, Worcester battled Westfield, seeking a 4-0 head-to-head record over the Starfires. It was a bit of reverse deja vu for Worcester as last week on NESN, they let a 4-2 lead slip away in the ninth inning against Brockton. This time, they instead forced Westfield into that same situation.
The Starfires held a 4-0 lead after the first four innings, before allowing Worcester to claw back into it. A pair of wild pitches and a walk sent in 3 runs during the seventh inning to get the Bravehearts back in the game, tying it at 4-4. They ultimately took the lead in the 9th inning off an RBI single through the shortstop/third base hole from TJ Wachter (Fordham), which was all they needed to get the 5-4 victory on NESN. Believe it or not, with Worcester’s go-ahead hit in the ninth, that means all 3 televised games so far have seen a lead change in the final inning, pretty mind-blowing! The NESN slate finishes up when Brockton takes on Nashua Saturday at 12 p.m.
Hey Vermont, you’re back in the headlines, and for good reason. If you haven’t seen our league standings, the Lake Monsters are once again rolling as we come down the final third of the season. Not only are they comfortably leading in the league standings, but there’s an opportunity they can clinch a playoff spot BEFORE the All-Star Game next week! They have an 11-game advantage for a playoff spot. With 17 games to play, it’s very possible that they will have a fairly stress-free final week. Once again, the deep versatility in their lineup and pitching staff has helped them to get in this position.
In other news around the league, we had yet another wild comeback on Friday as Westfield miraculously rallied against Brockton to win by a final tally of 9-8. A total of nine pitchers were used as the game got out of hand on multiple occasions. The Rox didn’t mess around and posted 6 runs in the 4th inning to leap out to a 6-1 lead. Liam Foley (Bowdoin College) highlighted it with a two-run triple. It didn’t take long for the Starfires to answer back.
In the 5th inning, it was Jack Power (Long Island University) who drilled a three-run shot out of Bullens Field as the Starfires got on the board to trail 6-3. Brockton slipped in two runs during the seventh inning on an error by Westfield. Things appeared to be getting away from the Starfires, until yet again the Bullens Magic kicked in. Three consecutive RBI walks in the eighth cut it to 8-6. Then in the ninth, Jackson Hornung (Skidmore) drilled a homer of his own and Daniel Burnett (University of Hartford) dropped in an RBI single to win the game! Westfield continues to fight for positioning as the battle for the final playoff spot is up for grabs.
The MLB Draft has been ongoing this week and a total of seven Futures League alums officially got their names called to the big show through Monday! This year’s picks have been headlined by Reggie Crawford, a UConn product and Westfield Starfire pitcher in 2020 who was selected with the 30th and final pick in the first round by the San Francisco Giants. The other members included Dominic Keegan (4th round to Tampa Bay, Nashua ‘20), Sean Harney (eighth round to Tampa Bay, Brockton ‘18), Nick Biddison (fourth round to LA Dodgers, Nashua ‘18), Cam Schlitter (seventh round to NY Yankees, Nashua ‘19), Caeden Trenkle (ninth round to Oakland, Pittsfield ‘19) and Jack Choate (ninth round to San Francisco, Worcester ‘21).
Time for more weekly awards! The 78 Sports Player of the Week is awarded to Tyler Pettorini (Ohio State) of the New Britain Bees. He posted one of the best weekly batting averages in the league this season with a scorching .625. He recorded 10 hits, two for extra bases, along with six runs scored, four RBI and two walks. He recorded multiple hits in three of his four appearances this week and is currently in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak.
The ChangeUp Pitcher of the Week is awarded to Ian Parent (Endicott) of the Vermont Lake Monsters. In one appearance this week, he was perfect on the mound, tossing five scoreless and hitless innings with two walks and six strikeouts. Parent is primarily a bullpen pitcher for Vermont, making only one start in eight appearances. He also sports a 4-0 record with a 2.21 ERA and has not allowed a run in four consecutive relief appearances.
Here’s a look at the updated standings as all teams continue to chase one another for higher seeding. Vermont holds the lead in first place by 8 games, while the second through sixth seeds are still within reach. Brockton has also improved their position in last place, as they remain only 4.5 games back of a playoff spot with 16 to play. One of the most interesting notes about the schedule is that Nashua and Pittsfield face each other seven times in the final three weeks. Those head-to-head matchups could go a long way to deciding who gets a playoff spot.
Vermont Lake Monsters (34-13)
New Britain Bees (26-21)
Nashua Silver Knights (25-21)
Westfield Starfires (22-24)
Norwich Sea Unicorns (22-25) (0.5 GB)
Pittsfield Suns (20-26) (2 GB)
Worcester Bravehearts (19-27) (3 GB)
Brockton Rox (18-29) (4.5 GB)
Around The Diamond continues every week of the season and will be a daily publication going forward as needed. 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.