By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – In the seventh inning of Plainville’s American Legion game against Bristol on Saturday, July 19, it looked as if Sam Lindgren was going to drop a hit into centerfield.
But Bristol’s Jake Martel somehow, someway tracked down the ball, made a spectacular catch and robbed Lindgren of that hit.
All Lindgren could do was tip his cap to Martel – which he literally did – off the outstanding catch.
It was all about the defense for Bristol and against Plainville, Post 2 brought the “D” and racked up a 3-0 victory from Alumni Field in Plainville.
The victory was Bristol’s 20th on the campaign (20-14-1) and Post 2 held off a very feisty Post 33 aggression.
Defense certainly ruled the day as Bristol center-fielder Jake Martel single-handedly took away three hits from Plainville (11-25).
Martel simply tracked down anything hit his way and over the final frame, he snatched two potential extra-base hits to snuff out any chance of a possible Plainville rally.
“Jake’s been playing well all year,” said Bristol coach Jerry LaPenta. “He played a great centerfield. He’s played awesome. Anything hit his way, if he’s got a shot, he’s going to catch it.”
That hungry Bristol defense limited Plainville to just four hits on the evening.
Plainville’s Mike Munson smashed out a double in the second frame while Matt Sauvron, Rob Pezzulo, and Jared Sgroi all had base hits for Post 33.
It could have been more for the home team and that’s a credit to the veteran squad that made all the big plays throughout the encounter.
“It didn’t show (on the scoreboard),” said Plainville coach Jim Tufts of his team’s offensive effort. “I was just happy the kids that were hitting those balls were freshmen and sophomores. “They were doing very well.”
Bristol saw its first five batters reach base safely in the first inning as the squad notched three quick runs to end the suspense in the contest.
Three straight hits, a batter hit-by-a-pitch and an error saw Bristol go up by a 3-0 tally just half an inning into things.
“I was happy (with the result),” said LaPenta. “We thought about not playing today [with the tournament game against New London the next day] but I said, ‘You know what, I think it’s better that we play a game as opposed to practice, to keep our mental focus.’”
Credit also belonged to Bristol pitcher A.J. Lorenzetti and over his six innings of work, he kept the shutout intact.
He gave up just three hits, struck out three and walked three.
Each and every time Plainville threatened, Lorenzetti buckled down and let his defense do the rest of the work.
“He hasn’t pitched a lot [this year] but he throws strikes,” said LaPenta of Lorenzetti. “That game [against New Milford], the lightning delay kind of hurt him a little bit. It was really the first time he pitched that long. I probably should have taken him out when he had a little trouble after the delay. But he does a good job.”
“He throws strikes, he’s herky-jerky and he keeps guys off-balanced.”
Ricky Lemke, coming into the fray to start the seventh frame, gave up just one hit to earn the save.
Pezzulo, after the first inning, buckled down and gave up just two hits on the mound over his final to stanzas of work.
From there, Mike Wiszniak threw three scoreless innings and in a stirring final frame, Brian Dostaler chucked the last frame of his Legion career.
But Bristol made it academic early.
Troy Micale (3-for-4) singled to open the game, Andrew Martin doubled to put two on and at the plate, Martel was up to the challenge.
Martel (2-for-3, run, 2 RBI), blasted a base hit up the middle – scoring both Micale and Martin – as Bristol led by a 2-0 push.
From there, Kyle Pileski was hit-by-a-pitch and Jake Hall was safe off a possible double-play ball that was bobbled.
Martel scored off the gaff and Post 2 went ahead by a 3-0 tilt.
But off the error, Plainville – Munson in particular – helped to turn a double-play as Plainville got out of the jam but trailed 3-0.
From there, Bristol did not manufacture another run in the contest.
Overall, Bristol blasted out nine hits but had three of those over the first inning of play.
“We gave up three runs early,” said Tufts. “Bristol hit the ball. We weren’t on right away. We made one little mistake that cost us a run. But after that, the pitching and defense shut them down.”
“We played good baseball.”
From there, the pitchers took over as defense ruled the game until its completion.
Down 3-0 going into the bottom of the third, Plainville had the tying run at the plate with two outs.
With one out, Grant Sarra was hit by Lorenzetti, Sam Lindgren reached base via fielder’s choice and Dostaler walked to get onboard.
Off two steals, the Lindgren, Dostaler combo was on third and second base, respectively, and Pezzulo in the box looking for a big hit.
But he flew out to right as Bristol’s 3-0 edge remained intact.
In the fifth, Post 33 had runners on first and second base with two outs but another fly-out to right field ended the fray while in the seventh, Wiszniak and Lindgren were robbed of hits by Martel as Bristol ended the game strongly and won it by a 3-0 final tilt.
“I think it was good,” said LaPenta of the victory. “Guys came out, we played defense, we didn’t make any errors, we got a few hits, got a win and feel good about tomorrow [game against New London in the first round of the state tournament].”
Plainville didn’t go away quietly in the game but a veteran Bristol club was just a little bit better on the evening.
“We just didn’t hit the ball,” said Tufts. “When we did, it was caught.”