By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – No one from the Plainville baseball staff is pushing the panic button after only two games this season.
Yes, the Blue Devils have started the season in an 0-2 hole but in each of its first two games, Plainville has shown signs of what it could become and what it could be.
Plus, it’s only been two games and the Class M defending champions are looking to tweak things a little bit to start playing the brand of baseball the team is truly capable of.
Against Rocky Hill back on Wednesday, April 3, Plainville led 6-2 at one point in the game but it came apart over the final three frames as Plainville was outscored 7-1 to end the showdown.
In that contest, the pitching staff walked five batters and in most recent loss – a 9-2 defeat to St. Paul on Saturday, April 6 – five additional base-on-balls didn’t help matters any.
“The walks, over the first two games, hurt us,” said Mandeville. “When you don’t get ahead of hitters, the hitters got the advantage and they’re going to get good swings on you and that’s what happened (over those first two games).”
Against the Falcons, three of those five walks resulted in runs and Mandeville knows that throwing strikes keeps the competition using their bats which means swings, strikeouts, and putouts.
“It’s not just one (pitcher), it’s the team,” that needs to improve said Mandeville. “We need to get ahead of hitters more and we need to get hitters to swing the bat.”
Against St. Paul, Plainville carried a 1-0 edge into the sixth frame but the bases were quickly loaded with one out by the Falcons.
Brian Dostaler (0-2) started the game but was moved in favor of closer Tyler Favreau.
Favreau quickly dispatched Ben Mazzone on strikes but went to 3-2 – a full count – on Matt Santovasi – and needed one last pitch to strike him out.
The pitch appeared to get the plate for a strike but the umpire called it a ball as the walk forced in a run to tie things up at 1-1.
It happened again against Emilio Santiago as a final pitch of a full count turned into ball four off another borderline call.
However, in each case, expecting the umpire to make the right call almost never usually happens and two questionable plays went against the home team.
“I thought early in that first hitter (Matt Santovasi) it started off 1-0 and I thought that (next pitch) was close,” said Mandeville. “Still, you have a chance to make a pitch…you make a pitch (and if) you throw a strike, you’re out of it.”
There’s still a ton of baseball to be played for the Blue Devils and all those mistakes are correctable.
Mandville has been around the block more than a few times and knows what needs to be done.
“I told the kids it’s still early,” said Mandeville of the season. “We’re going to keep plugging away.”
And there will be some upcoming challenges for Plainville to make those improvements against.
On Friday, April 12, Plainville is home for a challenge against Class LL opponent Southington while on Monday, April 15, the Blue Devils have a rematch against East Hartford from last season.
April 22 sees Middletown comes to Plainville while on April 24, Bristol Eastern invades Alumni Field.
“We’re going to keep working,” said Mandeville. “We play a good schedule… you can’t fall asleep. You just keep working…you just keep plugging away.”