BURLINGTON, VT — The Vermont Lake Monsters won the 2021 FCBL Championship in their first season in the Futures League and the franchise’s first title since 1996 with a 3-2 victory over the Pittsfield Suns in the third-and decinding game Friday night at historic Centennial Field.
Starter Patrick Harrington (Assumption) scattered three hits with no walks and six strikeouts, needing just 68 pitches (54 for strikes) to get through five scoreless innings. The FCBL pitcher of the Year gave up singles in the second, fourth and fifth innings to earn his second win of the playoffs.
Vermont scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. After Francis Ferguson (Eastern Nazarene) reached on an error and Tyler Favretto (Crowder College) walked, Zach Landry (Worcester State) moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt.
Jimmy Evans (Tufts) followed with a line drive two-run single to centerfield for a 2-0 Lake Monsters lead. One out later, Coby Brouillette (BFA-St. Albans/Clarkson) singled to centerfield scoring Evans with the third run of the inning.
Billy Oldham (Eastern Connecticut) came on in relief of Harrington to start the sixth inning and retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced through the top of the eighth. But the Suns rallied in the ninth with a Jose Lara leadoff double and Jack Cooney RBI single to cut the Pittsfield deficit to 3-1.
Jake Blinstrub followed with another single putting runners on the corner before Oldham got the first out of the ninth on an RBI forceout at second base. After Will Hesslink hit the only batter he faced in relief of Oldham to put the tying run on second and go ahead run at first, Chris Clark (Harvard) finished off the game with a lineout to right and a strikeout of Nate Cormier to secure the title for Vermont.
Evans went 2-for-4 with the two-run single and was named the FCBL Playoff MVP, going 8-for-21 (.381) with six runs and 10 RBI in the Lake Monsters five playoff games. Brouillette also went 2-for-4 in the clincher and hit safely in 10 of the last 11 games (18-for-45, .400).
Pittsfield starter Izaiya Mestre matched Harrington over the first four innings before allowing the three runs on three hits in the fifth, finishing with a line of three runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts over five innings. Reliever Ryan Langford gave up just one hit with five strikeouts over three scoreless innings.
Vermont, which started the season 12-18 before going 23-2 in July and 30-6 over the final 36 games to clinch the FCBL regular season title with a 42-24 record, went 4-1 during the playoffs to win the second-ever title in the franchise’s 27-year history (won 1996 New York-Penn League title as the Vermont Expos).