By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Bristol Blues went 5-2 last week to finish the regular season with a record of 31-23. It was the same record as the Brockton Rox, who finished as the FCBL’s top team by virtue of the tiebreaker they held over the Blues. Bristol did earn the No. 2 seed in the FCBL Playoffs, along with a first-round bye.
The Blues were scheduled to open the best-of-three semifinal round on Tuesday at Muzzy Field. The semifinal series was slated to continue on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bristol closed the regular season with a 10-3 win over the North Shore Navigators this past Sunday at Muzzy Field. The Blues gave the home fans plenty to cheer about, and they cheered loudly throughout.
“The crowd was just awesome tonight, everybody was really engaged,” manager Ronnie Palmer said. “The fan base, the fans, they understand the game of baseball. I know the boys really appreciate when they’re here, I do as well, it was a good atmosphere tonight. Hopefully we can carry that over to Tuesday, these same people can show up, and maybe even more.”
After a 5-10 start to the season, the Blues played .667 baseball the rest of the way (26-13).
“That’s pretty good baseball in my opinion,” Palmer said. “It’s nothing I’m doing different, it’s just the guys have really bought in to what they want to do and what they want to accomplish.”
Bristol had a Southington native pitch against it in the last week. The Blues faced John Mikosz when they played the Rox on July 30 in Brockton, Mass. Bristol won the game 7-4, and Mikosz (1-3) was hit with the loss. Mikosz went five innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, struck out three and walked two. He threw 53 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
Bristol native Jagger Duquette, a recent graduate of Bristol Eastern High School, made his Blues debut on July 31 against the Worcester Bravehearts. Duquette came on in relief of Waterbury native Peyton Stephens in the first game of a doubleheader and pitched six innings to pick up the win. Duquette gave up one run on four hits, struck out three and walked one.
Here’s what happened the rest of the week:
Rox 3, Blues 2 (10 innings)
JULY 29—A wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Brockton the walk-off win over Bristol at Campanelli Stadium.
Reed Pegram (Ankeny, Iowa) started, pitched the first 6.1 innings and picked up a no-decision. He gave up two earned runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked two. Tommy Hughes (Newington) took the loss in relief and fell to 0-2.
Zeke Diamond (Sandy Springs, Ga.) had two singles and an RBI while Buddy Dewaine (Uncasville) doubled, scored a run and drove in another. Dylan Reynolds (Hamden) also doubled and scored a run.
Blues 7, Rox 4
JULY 30—Bristol won the return trip to Brockton on this night behind six solid innings from starter Mark Faello (Plainview, N.Y.).
Faello (6-0) yielded just three hits, struck out five, walked three and hit a batter. He threw 52 of his 87 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 1.54.
Kasey Bass (Sun Prairie, Wisc.) hit his first home run of the season and finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. John Orzechowski (Monroe) also had two hits and added a run scored. Brandon Miller (Easton, Penn.) singled, stole two bases, scored three runs and drove in another while Diamond had a single, sacrifice fly and two RBI. Austin White (Glastonbury) drove in a run while Reynolds and Will Reiner (Madison) each scored a run.
Blues 12, Bravehearts 4
JULY 31—Bristol plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull away from Worcester in the first game of a Muzzy Field doubleheader.
Miller continued to surge with a three-hit day that included six RBI and a home run, his sixth of the season.
“Brandon, we slid him into the three-hole a few games after he got here,” Palmer said. “He’s accepted that role and he’s thrived in it.”
Christian Beal (Flossmoor, Ill.) singled twice, was hit by a pitch, scored two runs and drove in a run while Reynolds added a single, hit by pitch, two runs scored and an RBI. White singled, walked three times, scored three runs and drove in another while Dewaine tripled, stole a base and scored a run. Diamond singled and drove in a run while Jordan Laske (Wethersfield) walked and scored two runs.
Bravehearts 5, Blues 1
JULY 31—Bristol was on the wrong end of a seven-inning no-hitter in the second game of the Muzzy doubleheader against Worcester.
Jack Moynihan allowed a single unearned run, struck out five, walked one and hit one on his way to the no-hitter. Orzechowski was hit by a pitch and scored the lone run for the Blues. Sam Loda (East Haven) reached on a walk. Tyler Boisvert (Oxford) took the loss for Bristol.
Blues 6, Suns 4
AUG. 1—Bristol rebounded from being no-hit and defeated Pittsfield at Muzzy.
Shane Bogli (Vernon) won for the second time in as many starts. He pitched 6.2 innings and gave up three runs (one earned) on nine hits. Bogli struck out four and walked none. Spencer Fox (Manchester) gave up a run on two hits in 1.2 innings and struck out four. James Judenis (Wallingford) allowed one hit in his one inning and picked up the save, his first of the season.
Bass singled three times, scored a run and drove in another to lead the Blues offense. Dewaine had a single, sacrifice fly and two RBI while Reynolds doubled, scored a run and drove in another for Bristol. Diamond and Kyle Maves (Burlington, Ontario) each had a hit, stolen base and run scored.
Blues 11, Suns 8
AUG. 2—Bristol slugged three home runs as part of a 13-hit barrage in the win over Pittsfield at Wahconah Park.
White, Reynolds and Orzechowski all went deep for the Blues. Orzechowski finished with three hits, a stolen base, two runs scored and three RBI on the night. White singled twice, scored a run and drove in another while Reynolds singled, was hit by pitch, scored two runs and drove in three more. Diamond collected three hits, scored a run and drove in another while Miller tripled, walked and scored two runs. Laske added a single, two walks and two runs scored. Beal singled, was hit by a pitch twice and scored a run.
Matt Shane (Colchester) started, pitched the first three innings, and was the winning pitcher for Bristol. He gave up three hits and struck out four. Judenis struck out the game’s final batter for his second consecutive save.
Blues 10, Navigators 3
AUG. 4—Bristol delighted the home fans at Muzzy Field with a 12-hit effort in the victory over North Shore.
White reached base in all six plate appearances, including four walks, a single and a double. He scored four runs and drove in another to lead the Blues offense.
“That’s what he’s done all year for us. He gets up there, he knows the role as far as a leadoff hitter goes,” Palmer said. “He takes a lot of pitches, he sees a lot of pitches.”
Bass singled three times and scored a run while Beal singled, doubled, scored a run and drove in three runs. Reynolds singled and drove in two runs while Miller, Loda and Diamond each had a single and RBI. Noah Budzik (Cromwell) singled and scored two runs.
Garrett Coe (Lakeside) started and pitched seven innings on his way to the win. He gave up two runs on three hits, struck out six, hit two and walked none. Stephens and Marrero each threw an inning in relief of Coe.
“It’s been a rough stretch, but we’ve tried to flex guys in and out,” Palmer said. “It’s been a good week of baseball.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com