by MICHAEL LETENDRE
WINSTED – Putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard is what a successful baseball squad does on a routine basis.
So when the Bristol Legion baseball team traveled to Winsted on Thursday, July 12, the visiting team added a little something to the board almost every inning.
And in the end, Post 2 came away with an impressive 10-2 victory from Walker Field.
The win moved Bristol to 21-9-1 overall while in the zone, Post 2 improved to 17-7 and has won four straight games.
With the loss, Winsted fell to 11-13 in Zone 1 play.
And amazingly, after Southington posted two consecutive losses on Avon that same evening, the race in Zone 1 is even tighter.
Both Avon and Southington are at 18-6, leaving Bristol just one game behind in third place.
Beating Winsted simply kept Bristol in the battle for a zone championship and that would mean automatic qualification to the upcoming state tournament.
Post 2 holds the tiebreaker against Southington while Avon swept the season series from Bristol.
Against Winsted, the squad hung around in the contest early but Bristol’s offensive onslaught simply overwhelmed the home team and Post 2 seized control from the onset.
Overall, Bristol tallied 15 hits and once Post 2 took the initial edge, it never gave it up.
Matt Blandino led off the first stanza with a single while teammates T.J. Wyrebek and Tyler Bush both walked as the bases were loaded with just one out.
Tim Jalbert (2-for-4, two RBI, run) followed by dropping in a two-RBI single to right to make it a 2-0 game.
From there, Mitch Guilmette (2-for-3, two RBI) nailed an infield hit to score Bush from third as Bristol nabbed a 3-0 push just a half inning into things.
“We’re hitting the ball really well right now,” said Bristol coach Dave Nocera. “I really love our approaches at the plate. It’s amazing because our offense is really clicking right now and everything else is clicking. I’m not crazy about the infield defense right now. We need to clean that up once the season ends before we get into the postseason.”
“I’m concerned we’re giving teams too many outs but we’re making up for that with our hitting, our pitching and even the way we’re running the bases.”
Reid Roberge (3-2) pitched a perfect first frame but in the second, Winsted cut the deficit to 3-2 off a two-RBI single to right by pitcher Austin Brochu as the home team only trailed by one after two completed frames.
In the top of the third, an RBI single up the middle by Guilmette – scoring Wyrebek – made it a 4-2 edge for Bristol after three innings of work.
Roberge faced stern challenges in the third and fourth stanzas but each and every threat was neutralized as Bristol’s defense came forward and the visitors maintained its 4-2 tilt.
But in the fifth, the game was altered for good.
Bristol scored four times in the fray to collect a 8-2 cushion.
With one out, Bush reached base off a dropped pop-up and Jalbert followed up with a blazing double to centerfield.
In the most questionable move of the afternoon, Guilmette was intentionally walked as the bases were juiced.
Brett Madore made Winsted pay as he smashed a double to center to score Bush and Jalbert and make it a 6-2 contest.
Guilmette eventually scored off a wild pitch and off a double steal, Madore crossed the plate and Bristol turned a close contest into an 8-2 affair.
Roberge started the fifth frame but Winsted quickly loaded the bases with no outs recorded.
The call was made to the Bristol bullpen as Kris Fuller came into the game and quickly stabilized the situation.
Fuller got Kyle Considine to fly out to center and then chopped down Will Perrotti via strikeout.
However, Winsted’s Justin Morehardt took too big of a lead off first base and off the strikeout on Perrotti, Bristol catcher Connor Fitzsimons made a rally throw to help tag the runner out as Bristol – thanks in large part to Fuller – got out of a bases loaded jam and keep it an 8-2 tilt.
In fact, during his three innings of relief, Fuller yielded only one hit, gave up one walk, and struck out two.
“He got us out of a big jam,” said Nocera of Fuller. “That was important because it got a little bit tenuous at that point of the game (in the fifth inning). He came in and he gets his curveball over for strikes and that’s important because he changes speeds, he throws strikes and he makes his fastball look even better.”
“You can tell each time he goes out there, he’s getting better and better.”
Post 2 added a little insurance in the top of the sixth as Connor Hayes scored on a past ball and with the bases loaded, Madore collected his third RBI of the afternoon – with his bases-loaded infield hit that plated Eric Roman – and gave Bristol had its 10-2 push after six innings of work.
Both teams did not score again as Bristol held on to win the contest by a hefty eight run total.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” said Nocera. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger, which is important. Like I said, I think that trip to Maryland really bonded the kids and they came back and we’ve had four quality games since then.”
“We’re playing really well right now and I’m very confident going into the postseason.”
NOTES… Zone 1 became the first zone to have all of its playoff participants figured out. Southington, Avon, Unionville, Simsbury and Bristol will all represent Zone 1 in postseason action…On Friday, July 13, Bristol defeated Simsbury 8-5 from Muzzy Field. With the win, Post 2 moved to 18-7 in Zone 1 – tied with Avon and only one game behind Southington. Bristol has won five straight Zone 1 games .