By KEN MORSE
The Plainville baseball team is all about the bond between brothers. It begins with a coaching staff that bleeds blue and white and that brotherhood is alive on the baseball diamond and off the field of play.
What head coach Lou Mandeville and his assistant are developing is just a continuation of a rich baseball tradition that had been going on for close to a half a century.
The Blue Devils are in Florida this week on their bi-annual sojourn south where the nature of that bond develops this team into a brotherhood that will last a lifetime. It’s no secret that every time Plainville schedules these trips the team flourishes.
In 2016 PHS returned from their Florida trip and went 14-6; in 2014, they were 10-10; and in 2012, they went on to win their eighth state championship, the second highest total in state history.
“When you are basically living together for a week like that is certainly draws everyone together,” said Mandeville. “And it really formed a much closer bond in those years we went in the past and our record showed it. We are looking forward to this trip doing the same thing.”
The Blue Devils will take on Windsor on Tuesday, April 10 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. followed by games with Rocky Hill on Wednesday and Maloney on Friday. Plainville returns home and will play Enfield at Alumni Field on Tuesday, April 17.
That bond of brotherhood began in earnest last Saturday when a controversial call ignited the Blue Devils comeback as they erupted for four runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-3 win over Bristol Central.
“It happened to us against Bristol Eastern,” said Mandeville, as the Lancers scored six runs in the sixth inning to deal the Blue Devils a 12-4 loss last Thursday.
“It’s high school baseball you can’t give extra outs and it cost us. Today we were able to take advantage of it.”
The Rams had just taken a 2-1 lead plating two runs in the fourth. Austin Brown hit a sacrifice fly sending Alex Balfour home with the tying run but an overthrow on the cutoff allowed Evan Bucimo to score the go ahead run.
Wyatt Lacombe tried to get something started getting hit with a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Suddenly, the Bristol Central coach came out of the dugout to speak with the umpire and Lacombe was ruled out. After a lengthy discussion with both coaches the inning was over.
The Blue Devils came together as one and began to right the wrong. Jordan Bishop who had battled his way out of trouble the whole game allowing nine base runners through four innings on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter shut down the Rams in a one-two-three inning for the first time in the game in the top of the fifth.
Plainville came to bat looking for redemption. Tyler Davis ignited the fire singling sharply to left and pinch runner Tyler Miller took his place on the base path. Matt Bialko laid down a bunt up the third base side that was thrown past the first baseman for an error.
Brady Callahan who scored the first run of the game for the Blue Devils worked out a walk to load the base with no outs. Bishop the pitcher came up and had a chance to decide his own fate getting a hit over the third baseman’s head to tie the game.
Nate Michalek who singled in Callahan in the first inning drove a shot up the middle into centerfield to chase home two more runs. Callahan scored the fourth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Juan Camacho.
Armed with a 5-2 lead Dylan Morrell threw the final two innings in relief to preserve the win. The Rams did push another run across the plate aided by a throwing error in the infield.
But when it came time to make the plays they had to Plainville third baseman Tyler St. Onge made a leaping snare of a line shot down the third base line to rob the Rams of an extra base hit in the final inning. Left fielder Ryan Snyder chased down a foul pop up deep into the corner with the tying runner on base to end the game.
“I’m happy the way we battled back and hung in there after they took the lead,” said Mandeville. “Jordan battled on the mound and didn’t have his best stuff and Dylan did a nice job in relief.”
“Tyler Davis had a huge at bat getting his bat on the ball and got that inning going for us. Jordan had good placement on his hit but he’s always a competitor and he got it done.”
“We have three tough games down there in Florida on our trip but the weather will be a little better and we are up for it. Hopefully we can ride that momentum that we built today.”