Norwich Stay Hot, Win Their 3rd Straight

The Norwich Sea Unicorns continued their winning ways on Friday night, earning a 4-1 victory over the top seeded Westfield Starfires. Norwich has now won three in a row and are the first to 20 wins in the Futures League, owning a record of 20-12.

It was a pitchers’ duel at Dodd Stadium between Norwich starter Hector Alejandro and Westfield starter Chris Suter. Both starters allowed just 3 hits scattered over their 5 innings of work. There was no scoring in the ballgame until the top of the 4th when Westfield struck for the first run of the night. Gianno Merlonghi continued his strong summer at the plate, smashing a one out triple down the right field line. Alejandro walked the next batter he faced to give Westfield runners at the corners with one away. Merlonghi was later brought home on a sacrifice fly to right field to provide the Starfires an early 1-0 lead.

The Sea Unicorns were held hitless until the 4th inning when AJ Soldra flipped a single into right field. Norwich finally got on the board in the 5th thanks to a costly error committed by the Westfield second baseman. Shaun Callahan began the frame with a single into left field and advanced to second after the Westfield second baseman bobbled a ground ball, which also allowed Alex Irizarry to reach. A fly ball to center field from Michael Oates allowed Callahan to advance 90 feet. Suter was then able to induce a weak comebacker to the mound for the 2nd out in the inning and prevented Callahan from scoring. Anthony Tirado delivered for Norwich in the clutch, lacing a single into left field to give Norwich a 2-1 lead.

Once again Norwich benefitted from a Westfield defensive miscue to produce offensively. The second error of the night committed by the Starfires second baseman opened the door for the Sea Unicorns offense. Norwich took full advantage, extending their lead to 3. Westfield reliever Kyle Salvati allowed just one baserunner since entering the ballgame in the 6th before things went awry in the 8th for Westfield as a result of a one out error. AJ Soldra made Westfield pay clobbering a one out triple to the wall in left field to bring home Trey Porter. The Starfires elected to walk Peter Link to set up a potential inning-ending double play. Unfortunately, a dropped third strike disrupted any potential double play plans and allowed the speedy Soldra to score.

The Norwich bullpen was electric last night in the winning effort, allowing just 1 hit in the final 4 innings. Mike Poncini worked a scoreless 6th inning for Norwich in his Sea Unicorns debut. Jimmy Mulvaney locked down the save for the Sea Unicorns, recording the final 9 outs. The save for Mulvaney is his 4th of the summer and has now lowered his ERA to 1.19 over 16 innings this summer in the Futures League.

Hector Alejandro earned the victory for Norwich, firing 5 innings of 1-run baseball. Alejandro’s 5 innings last night is a season high, and his first victory as a starter. Overall, the UCONN product is 3-0 and holds a 3.14 ERA over 14.1 innings.

Norwich is back in action tonight for a meeting with their in-state foe New Britain Bees. The Saturday night Entertainment series continues at the Hole In The Wall Bar on the first base concourse starting at 4:30 for Open Mic Night presented by Yale New Haven Health and L&M Hospital. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.