By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – With Bristol American Legion pitcher Jerry LaPenta taking the mound for Post 2 against Winsted on Saturday, June 22, the squad was in more than capable hands.
But midway through the fray, it looked like the Bristol defense wanted to give the game away as Post 43 was within a couple runs of the lead.
However, Post 2 regained its composure, let its pitcher make all the big throws and tallied up insurance runs on the board as Bristol turned away Winsted 6-2 in a Zone 1 contest from Muzzy Field in Bristol.
LaPenta went the distance and threw a four-hitter to keep Winsted (1-6) off-balance and out-of-whack.
“It was a great pitching performance by LaPenta,” said Bristol coach Dave Nocera. “It all starts with that.”
He struck out five while walking only one in the complete game effort while staying in control over the final innings to keep Winsted from stealing the lead.
But the problem was defense as errors gave Post 43 some hope as an RBI double from Nate Marshall cut the deficit to 3-2 and after 5 1/2 innings, Winsted was knocking at Bristol’s collective doorstep.
However, Bristol wrapped up the game with three critical runs while LaPenta limited the damages and did not give up any additional offense to close things out.
But the Bristol outfield played well, worked as a unit, and while the infield struggled, the trio snagged down every ball hit its collective way to keep the score where it was.
“That outfield we had out there was exceptional defensively,” said Nocera. “Vinny (Nocera) in left, Jake (Martel) in center, and (Tim) Jalbert in right, that’s a good outfield.”
Ahead by one going into its portion of the fifth, Jake Martel (1-for-1, double, two RBI, 3 BB’s) led off the frame with a walk, Jarrett Michaels (2-for-3, RBI) followed with a base-on-balls of his own while Tony Nicoletti (1-for-2, two RBI) reached via error as the bases were loaded with no outs.
From there, Jake Dubrosky (1-for-3, RBI) smacked a ball to center and as the out was recorded, Martel scored from third, pushing Bristol’s lead to 4-2 after five.
Winsted was unable to respond in the sixth as a huge three and out – spearheaded by a 5-4-3 double-play – ended the frame while Post 2 zipped across two runs in the sixth to put the contest out of reach.
Michaels and Connor Hayes (3-for-4, triple, two stolen bases, two runs) each singled on and with one out, Martel slammed a blazing double down the left field line as the duo scored to make it a 6-2 game after six.
In the seventh, Winsted strung together two hits in the tilt as Nigron (double) and Cam Goulet (single) started a quick rally but with two outs, time was running out.
Marshall ended the game off a fly-ball to left as Bristol wrapped up a 6-2 win to move to 4-3 in Zone 1 play.
“We didn’t play as well today as I would like,” said Nocera. “I’m still not happy with the amount of fly balls that we’re hitting. Our swings are still too long (and) we’re hitting too many balls into the air. We’ve got to shorten-up, choke up, and hit the ball on the ground. We have to approach our at-bats with a thought in mind about what we want to do.”
“We have to anticipate…what’s the situation, where are the runners, what do I need to do to have a productive at-bat as opposed to going up there with no thoughts in mind and just trying to get a hit.”
Bristol took a 2-0 edge in the first inning as a two-RBI single by Nicoletti put Post 2 on the board quickly.
In the second, Dave Sills reached base off a fielding error with one out and scored via an RBI offering by Michaels as his slow roller went right past the third base bag and propelled Bristol to a 3-0 push.
But Winsted scored the next two runs in the game.
In the fourth, Nick Lippincot scored a run off a Bristol miscue while one inning later, Post 43 added another tally and were within one at 3-2.
However, LaPenta retook charge of the game and ended the fray with a flourish to pick up his second win of the year.
“Our pitching has been outstanding every game,” said Nocera. “We have not had a bad pitching performance. We lost three games and all three games, we’ve pitched well. We have things we need to get better at and we have the talent to do so.”
“It’s just a matter of doing it and getting into a grove where we can start playing well.”
NOTES…On Sunday, June 23, Bristol split a pair of games with Avon at Avon Old Farms.
In game one, Bristol led right off the bat, 1-0, before allowing three straight runs to fall 3-0 on the road.
Post 2 pitcher Andrew Martin picked up a tough loss in the losing effort.
In game two, Bristol wrapped up a 7-1 win but had to fight for it.
Both squads scored a single run in the first and a 1-1 stalemate lasted into the third stanza when Post 2 went on the attack.
Bristol scored six straight runs in the third to go ahead in the game, 7-1, and never let up.
Kyle Dube pitched Post 2 to the victory as Avon lost for the first time in Zone 1 play.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE