Bellofatto propels Westborough baseball past Grafton in season-opening win

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Bellofatto propels Westborough baseball past Grafton in season-opening win
Westborough baseball team gathers between innings. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

WESTBOROUGH – Though the forecast called for snow and sleet later in the week, the sun shone brightly for Opening Day.

On April 1, the Grafton Gators traveled up Route 30 to open their season against the Westborough Rangers. While both teams had positive takeaways from the game, the Rangers ultimately outlasted the Gators, winning the inter-league matchup, 6-2.

“For our opening game, it was a pretty clean ballgame. We had one defensive play that got a little away, but other than that, I thought we were pretty clean. They made it close, and then we tacked on to extend the lead, which was huge. I thought our guys competed. It was good,” Westborough Head Coach Scott Kittredge told the Community Advocate. 

The Rangers started scoring early. After one single and two walks loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning, Westborough senior assistant captain Nick Bellofatto laced a bases-clearing double down the left-field line, putting the Rangers ahead 3-0. Bellofatto, who went 2-4 on the day with 3 RBIs, also singled in the opening frame and made a key defensive stop late in the game to preserve Westborough’s lead.  

“Huge day. He used the whole field… He’s a senior leader for us, he’s an assistant captain, and he played like it today. He was great,” Kittredge said. 

“It felt great to take the lead. Our dugout was dead, and getting the hit – getting the RBI to get the lead – it got everyone going and it gave us the momentum in the game. It felt really good,” Bellofatto said. 

But Grafton’s pitching staff – led by Chris Kiesiner, who also batted third for the Gators – quickly settled in. 

After allowing the three runs, Kiesiner retired five consecutive batters. He struck out eight players over 4.2 innings – five swinging, three looking – while he was on the mound. Grafton’s offense fought back in the fourth inning; Kiesiner and Jake Mayerhauser drew back-to-back walks and eventually scored.

With the score now 3-2, Westborough added two insurance runs in the fifth inning and another in the sixth. Justin McCafferty – who pitched five innings for the Rangers – and senior captain Andy Cerniglia kept the Gator bats at bay for the rest of the game. Westborough closed out the game in the seventh after retiring eight consecutive batters.

“What we expect from the guys is just to be ready. Westborough has a quality team; the pitcher that pitched today is legit. As we go through, we just have to clean some things up. It’s the first game of the season. Even the Red Sox – we talked about that – you’re going to end up having a misstep here and there, but as we go we have things to correct,” said Grafton Head Coach Brian Andersen. 

And although Westborough walked away with the win, Kittredge acknowledged that this was the first of many games.

“We’ve got a young bunch… We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to be. I do think we’ll be competitive, I think we’ve got some talent. We’ll see exactly how high the ceiling is,” he said.

“We’re hoping to keep it on the right track. Last year we made the playoffs, we’re hoping to do that again. [Have a] winning record, make the playoffs, and hopefully get a home playoff game – those are the main three goals,” Bellofatto added.

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