Bristol Blues slowed by rain delays

Malachi Emond of the Bristol Blues pitches against the Worcester Bravehearts on July 10. the Blues beat their rivals, 5-4, at Muzzy Field. (Photo by Kelly May Del Debbio)

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. The Bristol Blues baseball team was singing to the tune of a nursery rhyme this past week after they were rained out for three-consecutive days.

The Blues have certainly experienced rainouts, but the three cancelations in a row last week were the most all season. On one hand, rainouts can give a team rest and help them to recover from injury and refocus on the upcoming schedule. On the other hand, nothing stops momentum more than a few cancelations.

“I know the guys appreciate the rest,” said Blues team manager, Ronnie Palmer. “But on the other hand, I know it gets them out of a rhythm and routine that they are accustomed to as well.”

Regardless, the Blues remain in command of their own destiny with an 18-16 record that ranks them second in the West Division, just a game and a half behind the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs (20-15). Palmer said the team’s at a good place at this point in the summer.

“The impromptu rest caused by the rain will be reinforced with the scheduled all-star break,” the team manager said. “So, this should have the guys rested when we get back together to play on Thursday because six of our first eight games after the all-star break are on the road.”

Following the all-star game, the Blues will experience another lengthy break away from the diamond as a team this week and won’t return to action until Thursday, July 20 when they travel to the Nashua Silver Knights (18-20). The Blues are also scheduled to play the Seacoast Mavericks (16-19) and divisional Pittsfield Suns (19-19).

Loss vs. Bravehearts

JULY 10—Bristol’s two-game winning streak was snapped on Monday with a one-run home loss to the Worcester Bravehearts.

“We played well,” said Palmer. “We just didn’t capitalize on some offensive opportunists, and the Bravehearts were opportunistic when they needed to be.”

The Bravehearts jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage with a pair of runs in the opening inning. The Blues took the lead, 4-2, with a run in the third and three in the fifth until the Bravehearts regained the lead for good with three runs in the sixth and seventh combined and held on for a 5-4 win.

Pat Demarco tied the game with a RBI single that scored a pair of runs with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth. Greg Kocincki singled for the game-winning hit in the next inning with two outs and runners on first and second.

The Blues finished with seven hits and three errors, as the Bravehearts stranded 18 runners on base. Jayson Gonzalez went 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI, a run scored, a home run, and a walk. Mark Tumosa went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk.

Malachi Edmond (0-1) started on the mound and went four innings with four strikeouts, allowing five walks and four hits. Keith Grant (0-2) was credited with the loss after going one and one-third innings with two strikeouts, two hits, an earned run, and a walk. Joel Torres, Jake Frasca, and Jacob Wallace (0-3) saw some action on the mound as well.

Loss at Dirt Dawgs

JULY 11—The Blues suffered their second-straight loss the next day and were bumped down to just a game above .500 on the year after falling, 8-2, at the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs.

“We got off to a really slow start in the first and second innings, and dug ourselves a 6-0 hole that we couldn’t get out of,” said Palmer. “We settled in after the second on the mound and defensively, but offensively, the Wachusett pitcher did a good job of holding our hitters in check.”

Five runs in the first inning shot the Dirt Dawgs out to a 6-0 lead after the second. The Blues cut the deficit to four with a pair of runs in the third, but the Dirt Dawgs signed off on the win runs in the next two innings.

The Blues mustered just five hits. Max Goione went 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI, a run scored, and a home run. Logan Green went 2-for-4.

Ross Weiner (3-1) started on the mound and was credited with his first loss of the season after going two innings with four strikeouts, allowing six earned runs, five walks, and three hits. David Stiehl (0-3) relieved Weiner to go three innings with three walks, two strikeouts, two hits, and two earned runs. Hayden Manning closed with four strikeouts.

Win at Bravehearts

JULY 16—Following three-straight rainouts, postponing a pair of contests at the Worcester Bravehearts and a home game against the Pittsfield Suns, the Blues finally got back on the field and ended their two-game losing streak.

“We were very consistent most of the day with our pitching and defense,” said Palmer. “In the seventh inning, we took advantage of a two-out error by North Shore to tie the game. In the eighth, we kept the momentum to take the lead with some very good at-bats.”

The Blues earned their 18th win of the season to wrap up the short week with a two-run triumph, 6-4, at the North Shore Navigators on Sunday. The Navigators held a 3-1 advantage after the second inning until the Blues pulled away with a late charge.

With two outs and no runners on base in the seventh, Mitch Williams (2-for-4) advanced to first on an error by the second baseman. Max Goione came up to the plate next and knotted the score with a home run.

Mitch Guilmette (3-for-5) hit the go-ahead run in the next inning with a base knock, and Williams and Jayson Gonzalez extended Bristol’s lead to three with a couple more RBI singles. The Navigators came up short with a run in the ninth.

“Our guys just stay very consistent with their attitude throughout the game and truly believe that we have a chance to win every game,” the team manager said. “That in and of itself is a testament to the camaraderie they’ve created with one another this summer.”

The Blues finished with nine hits and utilized eight different pitchers in the game.

“We structured the game like that, using a different pitcher each inning,” the Palmer said. “We hadn’t played a full game since Wednesday and wanted to get the guys game work before the all-star break. This sometimes works and sometimes bites you in the rear, but fortunately it worked out for us.”

Brandon Fox started on the mound, but only lasted an inning after allowing just one walk. As the final two pitchers to throw in the game for the Blues, Anthony Morrone (6-1) ultimately picked up the win after going an inning with a strikeout and a walk, while John Natoli (3-0) closed to get his first save of the season.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.