Post 2 toughs it out vs. Simsbury

SIMSBURY – In its second Zone 1 game of the season, the Bristol Legion baseball team found itself in a tight spot against a very familiar division foe.
Post 2 took on an aggressive Simsbury outfit who put runners on the base-paths early and often in its clash on Friday, June 14.
But Post 84 couldn’t get that winning tally across. In the end, the home team suffered a 2-1 setback to Bristol from Memorial Field in Simsbury on Friday, June 14.
With the win, Bristol improved to 2-1 overall while Simsbury fell to 2-1.
Post 2 pushed across all of its runs in a quick first inning of play while its pitching combination of Andrew Martin and Kyle Dube got the job done in two-hit effort.
Before Post 84 could even get an at-bat, the squad was trailing 2-0 on the board and that deficit was too tough to overcome.
“You’ve got to attack early,” said Bristol coach Dave Nocera. “What I like to do, especially when you’re on the road, is to score early, put a little pressure on the defense and the way Andrew Martin was pitching, you knew right away in the first inning, he had good stuff.”
Simsbury pitcher Gunner Kuchta-Koff was tremendous in the losing effort and after giving up two runs off three hits in the first inning, he was basically unstoppable.
He only faced the minimum 18 batters from the second frame on and that included one hit from Tony Nicoletti.
“I was very impressed with the way he threw today,” said Nocera of Kuchta-Koff.
Martin went six innings for Bristol, giving up only two hits, a solitary run, and struck out three while Kuchta-Koff went the distance, yielded four hits, two runs while striking out six, and walking only one.
But it was all Bristol early as Post 2 made its early push.
Connor Hayes opened the fray with an infield single and with one out, moved to third off a blazing double by Kyle Dube as two runners were on.
From there, Timmy Jalbert slipped a single down the right-field line as both runners scored and it quickly became a 2-0 game.
“In the first inning, we got off to a good start,” said Nocera. “We got a couple of key hits, we got a bunt down, put the pressure on (Kuchta-Koff). But he settled down nicely and pitched exceptionally well.”
Simsbury had multiple runners on base early but even as it put players in scoring position, Martin got out of each and every the jam to maintain the two-run edge.
In the first, Post 84 had runners on first and second but couldn’t score while in the second, Simsbury had second and third occupied with one out and still couldn’t secure a run.
In the third, Ryan Gothers walked with one out but remained stranded as Post 84 left six men on base after three completed frames.
“Especially with wood (bats), it’s tough to battle from behind,” said Nocera. “It tough to string a bunch of hits especially when you’re facing quality pitchers.”
With Bristol’s offense ahead but shut down thanks to Kuchta-Koff, Post 2’s defense was tested and while players like third basemen Jerry LaPenta made some outstanding plays in the field, four errors didn’t help matters any.
But nothing came of the gaffes and it took a two-out, sixth inning rally to finally get Simsbury on the scoreboard.
Andrew Girard doubled to center to start the tilt and later, Blair Zentak walked as runners were on first and third with the lead runner reaching the latter base via a passed ball.
A botched pickoff attempt at second base put the ball into centerfield as Girard crossed the plate to make it a 2-1 contest.
With the tying run on third, Martin got pinch hitter Dakota Hunter to pop-out as Bristol kept its 2-1 edge intact.
“Once Martin got into a groove, I knew we were in good shape,” said Nocera. “And then we had (Kyle) Dube in the pen, ready to close the game out. We got him in as soon as we needed him in the seventh inning. It was the perfect time to bring him in and pull a Mariano Rivera and close the door on these guys.”
With the score remaining 2-1 going into the bottom half of the stanza, Dube made his appearance and he was lights out.
He struck out pinch-hitter Jake Cassano, got Josh Figueroa to ground-out while Andrew Keene popped up to end the showdown as Bristol won a close 2-1 decision.
“It was a good win for us,” said Nocera. “Like the Terryville game, we did the little things that were necessary to win. I’m not completely satisfied and not happy with our at-bats at all. Not happy with some of the missed executions on the bunts, we missed a couple signs today and didn’t run the bases all that well today.”
“But you know what, we did enough to win, our pitching is going to keep us in every game, the defense needs to get a little bit better, but I’m confident that it won’t be an issue…as long as we can scratch across a few runs, I think we can contend for a zone championship.”