By Benjamin Upson
We continue on a journey through the month of July in the Futures League! As the weeks continue to pass by in this fast-paced 2022 season, the standings continue to tighten, making each and every game more intense than ever. Let’s step back into this past week, where we saw many impactful matchups take center stage!
While our top headline has been centered around the Vermont Lake Monsters, instead it’s now all about the Nashua Silver Knights as of late, winners in 12 of their previous 14 games. Even though Vermont continues to sit on their perch atop the Futures League standings, nothing is stopping Nashua from making a solid effort to get there.
Ever since recording his first hit of the season on NESN back on July 2nd in a walk-off against Pittsfield, Shane MacNamara (Eastern Nazarene College) has recorded a hit in four consecutive games, along with a double and four RBI. He is also batting .417 in the past seven days, which ranks him among the top five in the league for the week.
The most impressive feat that Nashua has accomplished over the past few weeks is their success against the Vermont Lake Monsters. They defeated them in four consecutive games over a span of just seven days. Three of the four games were on the road in Burlington, highlighted by Wednesday’s shutout by a score of 2-0. Both of the runs scored in that game by the Silver Knights were unearned via a Lake Monsters error. As a result of their recent success, Nashua has quickly found their way to second place, where they continue to battle for positioning.
There’s been a pair of NESN games already in the books, and this past weekend’s matchup did not disappoint. While Shane MacNamara walked it off for Nashua in the July 2nd NESN opener against Pittsfield, this one tackled a very different script in what felt like two completely opposite games.
Worcester held a 4-2 lead entering the 9th inning behind a pair of RBIs from Sal Grinstead (Palm Beach State), who recorded a home run and double to power the Bravehearts in what seemed to be a clear sailing game for them. Then the road bumps came in.
Brockton was down to their final out, with their only hope left being the senior Ryan Donnelly (Sacred Heart University). He miraculously kept the inning alive with a single that just got through the second base hole. What he did not know is that somehow the Rox became super energized, posting five consecutive hits and two walks in the 9th to march them out in front by a score of 8-4, which ended up being the final tally.
The battle of Connecticut was on tap a total of four consecutive times this week as the New Britain Bees and Norwich Sea Unicorns squared off for a home-and-home series, with two each at their respective stadiums. Coming in, both squads were practically trading games with one another as the series was almost at a dead even split.
The most notable game came on Thursday in New Britain, as Norwich stole one on the road 7-6. Highlighted by two-RBI games from first baseman CJ Willis (Western New England University) and left fielder Ray Leonzi (Fairfield University), the Sea Unicorns staved off the Bees when they threatened with runners on in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Now following these four matchups, it’s New Britain who holds a 5-4 edge over Norwich in the season series. In case you didn’t know already, they still have another four games left with each other, and two of them are this week on Tuesday and Thursday in New Britain.
Although he did not take our pitcher of the week award, it has to be mentioned that Ryan Donahue (Westfield State University) set the mark for most strikeouts in a single game this season with 13 Ks against Brockton on Friday. With a string of three consecutive wins dating back to June 25th, he tossed what was by far his best outing of the season, going six scoreless innings while giving up just two hits, five walks and the aforementioned 13 strikeouts.
Time for more weekly awards, and it’s a sweep by the Pittsfield Suns. The 78 Sports Player of the Week is awarded to Caleb Shpur (Endicott College), who posted a .550 batting average, with 11 hits, nine runs scored including a double and six RBI. He also had six walks and four stolen bases, showing that he could do a bit of everything this week on the basepaths.
The ChangeUp Pitcher of the Week is awarded to Izaiya Mestre (University of New Haven). In his 2 starts for the Pittsfield Suns this week, he pitched 12 combined innings, allowing just one run, four hits, four walks and 12 strikeouts. It’s been a better stretch as of late for the senior ace of the staff, as he’s rebounded from surrendering 13 runs over his first starts of the season.
Our Zorian Bats Team of the Month publication was also unveiled recently! This is a compilation of the league’s best players during the months of May and June across the board. Congratulations to all of the players that made our list for their well-deserved recognition! Most of these players will make the All-Star Game, set for New Britain on Tuesday, July 26.
Here’s a look at the updated standings as all teams are now beginning to enter the stretch run to the playoffs with just under four weeks remaining in the regular season. Vermont continues to hold their sufficient lead in first place, while the second through sixth spots are completely wide open.
Vermont Lake Monsters (28-12)
Nashua Silver Knights (21-18)
Westfield Starfires (20-19)
New Britain Bees (20-19)
Norwich Sea Unicorns (20-20) (0.5 GB)
Pittsfield Suns (19-20) (1 GB)
Worcester Bravehearts (16-23) (4 GB)
Brockton Rox (13-26) (7 GB)
Here at Around The Diamond, 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.