DANBURY -- The friendly confines of Rogers Park were not very friendly for the host Danbury Westerners on Monday night.
Loaded with lefty-swinging power hitters, the Vermont Mountaineers launched four homers over the short right-field porch to beat the Westerners 18-11 in a New England Collegiate Baseball League game.
The Westerners went 1-2 on their season-opening homestand and hope a change of scenery will bring about a change of fortune. The Westerners are set to embark on their first road trip of the season, starting with Tuesday's game in Holyoke, Mass.
"Eleven runs in this league wins 98 percent of the games, so that's a positive," Westerners manager Jamie Shevchik said. "The only negative is we have to get better pitching.
"I'm happy to get away from Rogers Park for the next couple days," Shevchik added with a chuckle, "because it seems like it's been working against us."
If Shevchik has one message for his team after two straight losses, it's this: Relax.
"A lot of these guys are coming from programs where they had to ask for permission to go to the bathroom," Shevchik said. "Just stay loose. I'm giving them the opportunity to stay loose and let their personalities come out a little bit, and that started today. The more time we spend with each other, the more comfortable we're going to be with each other."
The Westerners entered the sixth inning with an 8-6 lead but allowed 10 runs in the inning -- only five earned -- as Vermont took a 16-8 lead. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Danbury in that inning. Westerners reliever Isaac Sterman of Stamford issued three straight walks to start the inning before giving way to New Milford's Greg Ostner. Three-run homers by Ryan Karl and Rob Kelly broke the game open and Westerners errors on three consecutive batters -- infielders Josh Ake and Mike Orefice muffed ground balls and Andrew Garner dropped a fly ball in left field -- made a bad inning even worse.
Kelly went 4-for-5 with five runs batted in to lead Vermont's 15-hit attack.
Tom Zengel led Danbury at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two walks and four RBIs. His two-run missile over Memorial Drive beyond the right-center-field fence put Danbury on the board in the third inning and cut Vermont's lead to 4-2. Zengel gave the Westerners their first -- and last -- lead of the night, 8-6 in the fifth, with a two-run double that one-hopped the fence in left field. That plated Sean Smedley and Ake, both of whom had drawn walks.
Jake Ivory, Orefice, Smedley and Ake each had two hits for Danbury, with Orefice driving in two runs and Ivory and Ake scoring three apiece.
Fred Breidenbach stared on the mound for the Westerners and allowed six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Five relievers -- David Gibson, Sterman, Ostner, Stephen Paladino and Tyler Dunaway -- didn't fare much better, with Sterman (0-2) absorbing the loss after walking all three batters he faced.
"Our pitching let us down a little bit today," Shevchik said. "We're still trying to figure out who our pitchers are and what situations we can put them in. Little by little, that's what we're trying to figure out."
Ian Ratchford of Danbury went 0-for-2 in his Westerners debut but made a nice defensive play at third base in the eighth inning on a grounder by Sean Trent. Trent had the dubious distinction of being the only Mountaineers starter to not have a hit Monday. He went 0-for-6, but did drive in two runs.
VERMONT MOUNTAINEERS 310 20(10) 011 -- 18 15 1
DANBURY WESTERNERS 002 420 300 -- 11 13 3
Batteries: V--Richie Ochoa, Matt McAllister (4, W, 1-0), Jacob Kremers (6), Kellen Urbon (8) and Casey Brighton. D--Fred Breidenbach, David Gibson (4) Isaac Sterman (7, L, 0-2), Greg Ostner (7), Stephen Paladino (7), Tyler Dunaway (8) and Sean Smedley. SO: Ochoa 2, McAllister 2, Kremers 1, Urbon 4; Breidenbach 3, Gibson 1, Paladino 2, Dunaway 1. BB: Ochoa 3, McAllister 2, Kremers 2; Breidenbach 3, Gibson 1, Sterman 3, Paladino 1, Dunaway 1. HBP: Ochoa 1; Gibson 1, Paladino 1, Dunaway 1.
2B: John Mishu (V), Logan Pierce (V), Rob Kelly (V); Tom Zengel (D), Mike Orefice (D), Matt Boulter (D). HR: Pierce (V), Kelly (V), Greg Partyka (V), Ryan Karl (V); Zengel (D). RBI: V--Kelly 5, Karl 3, Pierce 2, Sean Trent 2, Partyka, Michael White; D--Zengel 4, Orefice 2, Zach Shank, Jake Gronsky, Kyle Wernicki.