Westfield Starfires face off against Vermont Lake Monsters in playoffs

The Westfield Starfires will host their first playoff game in franchise history Tuesday night.
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The Westfield Starfires will host their first playoff game in franchise history Tuesday night.

It is do or die for the Starfires in this best-of-three series. They dropped game 1 to the Vermont Lake Monsters Monday night, but this team has fought through adversity all season long and are hoping they can summon up one more dose of what they call “Bullens magic.”

“This seems like the culmination of what we’ve been working for not just over the course of this season, but all four years,” said Westfield Starfires Owner Chris Thompson.

Thompson will see playoff baseball arrive at Bullens Field for the first time since he co-founded the team in 2019.

“We just keep building the brand and building our baseball credibility, but it’s gonna be an awesome night here at Bullens Field,” he told us.

The team competes in the Future Collegiate Baseball League and features local college stars, including Shayne Audet who plays at New England College in New Hampshire.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here, from top to bottom,” Audet said. “It’s one of the best organizations I’ve ever played for.”

After reeling off seven straight wins to start the season, it all came down to the final day of the 63-game season. With the Starfires needing a win, they trailed 6-3 in the 9th inning before Jackson Hornung stepped up to the plate.

“He was in my ear all day about getting a pinch hit opportunity, so we knew it was going to have to be like a Kirk Gibson moment,” Westfield Starfires Manager Kyle Dembrowski said.

That’s when “Bullens magic,” a phrase coined by the team, manifested itself.

“Bullens magic is home field advantage,” Thompson told us. “Game after game, season after season, we have several come-from-behind victories and win in the bottom of the ninth.”

Hornung, who was out for two weeks with an injury, smacked a pinch-hit bases-clearing double before the Starfires walked it off two batters later to clinch their first-ever playoff appearance.

“When I saw him come up, I was completely shocked,” Audet said. “I mean, he’s a special player, he’s been doing it all year, so we kind of knew it was gonna happen.”

Now, with their backs against the wall, they are hoping for one final magic moment.

“Bullens magic is real,” Dembrowski said. “That’s all I got.”

“Go Starfires! Let’s win this!” Audet added.

The first pitch will be thrown out at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening. Tickets will still be available at the Bullens Field box office or online.