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Brakettes, Stratford Firefighters Come Together in Benefit Game for Jason Carrafiello

June 25 - The Stratford Brakettes took on the Stratford Firefighters Men's Slow-Pitch Softball Team in a benefit fastpitch exhibition at DeLuca Field on Friday night, as the squads battled to a 4-4, nine-inning tie.

The game was organized as a benefit for the family of Jason Carrafiello, a 38-year old Stratford firefighter who passed away from natural causes on December 26, 2016.

Brakette pitchers Brandice Balschmiter and Kaysee Talcik switched dugouts for the game, as did catcher Jenn Vazquez. While the Firefighters came ready to slug it out, they needed the Brakettes' help to fill out their battery. Balschmiter struck out six Brakettes in the exhibition, while Talcik struck out five.

Nicole Williams got the start for the Brakettes and went five innings, while Abby Abramson came in for the last four frames. Williams struck out eight, while Abramson fanned five batters.

Firefighter Mike Bruneau took the very first pitch of the game over the fence in centerfield for a 1-0 lead, and he led the charge for Stratford's Bravest throughout the contest.

The Brakettes were quick to respond, as their first three batters reached and scored in the first inning.

Val Suto, who made a sensational diving catch in centerfield in the top of the first, led off the bottom of the stanza with a walk. She moved up on a passed ball, and scored the tying run on a throwing error after Noel Lent reached on an infield single. A second throwing error on the same play allowed Lent to head to third.

Denise Denis reached on a third error in the frame, which allowed Lent to race home to give the Brakettes a 2-1 lead. Denis reached second base on a wild pitch and moved up to third on a single to right by Jolie Duffner.

Duffner stole second uncontested to put two in scoring position, before a passed ball sent Denis home for a 3-1 margin.

Balschmiter and Williams both settled in nicely after the first inning, as neither team would score again until the fourth.

Joe Baron led off the top of the fourth for the Firefighters with an infield single, and Bruneau followed with a double to right, putting runners at second and third with no one out. After Williams worked a strikeout, Jenn Vazquez came through for her new teammates with a two-run single, prompting some good-natured ribbing from her Brakette teammates. The base hit tied it up at 3-3, but the Brakettes again took the lead in the fifth.

Fans in attendance were treated to a series of unusual matchups in the game, including three showdowns between all-time greats Denis Denis (career home run queen) and Balschmiter (6th all-time in wins and strikeouts for Brakettes). Denis was 0-for-2 against Balschmiter until the fifth, when she smashed a home run off her decade-long teammate.

The solo shot put the Brakettes up 4-3, but the Firefighters tied it up again in the seventh.

Bruneau led off the frame with a single and stole second base. He finished 3-for-3 in the game and finished a triple shy of batting for a cycle. A wild pitch sent Bruneau to third, and a groundout by Vazquez drove him in with the equalizer.

Both teams had chances in the late innings, but when they finished regulation tied at 4-4, a tie was called based on a mutual decision between the squads.

The Brakettes will shuffle off to Buffalo next weekend to compete in the Aunt Rosie's Invitational. There will be two pool play games on Saturday, with single-elimination bracket play on Sunday.

All 2017 Brakettes games are live video webcast at www.brakettes.com.

7PM Friday night, June 23rd
vs. Stratford Fire Department
9-inning exhibition game - TIE
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
STFD FIRE DEPT  1 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 4 8 3
BRAKETTES 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 7 1
Batteries: SFD- Brandice Balschmiter, Kaysee Talcik (6) and Jenn Vazquez; Brakettes- Nicole Williams, Abby Abramson (6) and Hannah Cooper
Homerun: SFD- Mike Bruneau; Brakettes- Denise Denis