By MICHAEL LETENDRE
On Sunday, July 14, the Greeners posted a pair of shutouts to sweep past two opponents in a doubleheader. The Greeners improved to 9-4 overall.
BRISTOL – When Bristol Greeners’ coach Shawn Mirmina was going over his starting line-up for his squads first game of a doubleheader against the Naugatuck Dogs, the long time manager had a pitcher in mind for the showdown.
Except when it came time for the game, Mirmina had to make a quick change as option number one was no longer available.
Instead of going to ace Mat Niedzwiecki, Mirmina went to Bryan Wyrebek and the pitcher was on top of his game from start to finish.
Wyrebek threw a four-hit, 11 strikeout gem against Naugatuck as the Dogs fell to Bristol 1-0 in a Tri-State Baseball League game from Page Park from Bristol.
Naugatuck fell to 11-4 on the campaign while the Greeners upped its ledger to 8-4.
There wasn’t much the Dogs could do offensively against Wyrebek as all Naugatuck could muster in the game was one free pass and coupled with those four hits, runners were at a premium for the visitors.
“He fell behind some batters, threw a good amount of pitches but he’s a battler,” said Mirmina of Bryan Wyrebek. “He was kind of a last minute decision because Mat Niedzwiecki was supposed to start for us but his back tightened up on him. It was more of a spot-start for Wyrebek.”
From about midway through the third frame on, the Dogs were limited to just one hit and that single base-on-balls.
Naugatuck had only two runners in scoring position all game long and thanks to a ton of off-speed pitches by Wyrebek, the Dogs were fooled for most of the contest.
“He’s been throwing well all year for us,” said Mirmina of Wyrebek. “He consistently goes out and throws strikes.”
Naugatuck’s Lance Stevens deserves major credit as the pitcher from the visitors threw just a two-hitter to go along with two strikeouts in a complete game effort loss.
But the mistakes were costly and that helped the Greeners while spoiling Stevens’ amazing effort.
The win, perhaps, was Bristol’s biggest of the season against one of Tri-State’s elite teams.
“Naugatuck is a very good team,” said Mirmina.
“Hitting, pitching, defense… we knew it was going to be a close game (but) I didn’t think it was going to be a 1-0 game.”
For Bristol, TJ Wyrebek and Marco Ross picked up Bristol’s only two hits in the showdown but the Greeners final tally of the game was the biggest one indeed.
In that fateful fourth stanza,
Bryan Wyrebek – who was filling in at the clean-up spot because Tyler Bush was hit-by-a-pitch in the first inning and eventually had to leave the game – reached base via error and the hunt for one run was on.
Off a hit-and-run, Ross sent a single to centerfield and Wyrebek booked it to third to put runners on the corners.
From there, TJ Wyrebek hit into a 4-3 double-play but Bryan Wyrebek crossed the plate as Bristol scooped up a 1-0 edge and it was a lead that was never challenged.
“We took advantage of an error they made,” said Mirmina of the run. “We knew we weren’t going to get many (runs) off Stevens. He’s been around for a while. We knew he’s a good pitcher. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
Bryan Wyrebek continued to cruise from that point, dropped the side in the fifth while in the sixth, Naugatuck made it a bit interesting.
With one runner on, Jeff Rustico drew a walk and with two outs, Naugatuck had the go-ahead tally at first base.
But Kyle Murph popped out to end the threat as Bristol still led by a run.
“He does what he always does,” said Mirmina of Wyrebek. “He throws strikes and we played defense behind him.”
In the top of the seventh, Wyrebek quickly sent the side down in order as he won his third game of the year and the win ended up being a huge victory for the home squad.
“We’ve got some guys with speed and we took advantage of mistakes,” said Mirmina. “We ended up making fewer mistakes than they did and we came out on top.”
“It was nice beating a team like that.”
All former St. Paul pitching standout Joey Randall wants to do is get on the mound and throw the ball this summer and for the Bristol Greeners on the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League, he’s getting that chance.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Randall went four strong innings as the Greeners downed Prospect 4-0 from Page Park in Bristol.
The Greeners are now 9-4 on the season while young Prospect dropped to 0-16 though the squad gave Bristol a little early trouble in the game.
The Chargers dropped in two hits to start the contest but Randall quickly settled in and made all the big pitches.
Off two strikeouts and a grounder back to the mound, Randall got his squad out of the jam and Bristol was in business.
In fact, Randall retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced as he won for the first time in 2013.
“Every start, he’s throwing a little bit more,” said Bristol coach Shawn Mirmina of Randall. “He started off (throwing) with one inning, then he went two, today he went four. He’s fine in his location and that was the biggest thing for him. The velocity is there but getting back from Tommy John (surgery), he’s more worried about the location right now.”
“(And then) next time he goes out, he may go five innings…”
From there, Tyler Bush came in for a solid three innings of relief and allowed just one hit and struck out one to earn a big save.
Dave Casanova led Bristol’s eight-hit attack, going 2-for-2, with a triple, a sacrifice bunt and a run scored while Nick Palminsano went 2-of-3 with a run and two RBI.
Geoff Pierce, Bryan Wyrebek, Jimmy Hahn and Mirmina each tallied a hit for the winning club.
Macro Ross had a single as well as Bristol used a little hit-and-run and small-ball to eventually increase its lead to four runs during the fray.
“We did a hit-and-run twice with Marco (during the doubleheader) and it worked out both times,” said Mirmina. “Prospects’ record may not be that great but they’re a scrappy little team. They gave us a good game.”
Brian Langdon went 4.1 innings, gave up eight hits, yielded up two earned runs but pitched well for Prospect.
The Chargers collected hits from Dan Gugliotti (2-for-3), Ryan Marrioti and Spencer Griffin.
It took the Bristol offense a bit of time to get into the swing of things but once the third inning came around, the runs were pushed onto the scoreboard.
In the third, Mirmina walked and a passed ball moved him to second.
Casanova’s sacrifice bunt moved Mirmina to third and off a grounder from Palminsano – which was mishandled – the lead runner scored and the Greeners led 1-0.
In the fourth, Pierce singled to start the inning but off a grounder and error, the lead runner was called out and Bryan Wyrebek made it to second base safely.
Hahn followed up with an RBI single to the gap in right as Wyrebek scored to make it a 2-0 game.
“We took advantage of some mistakes again and we didn’t make too many mistakes on defense today” said Mirmina. “We only had one or two errors but we know we’re going to pitch. Our bats are our biggest question mark, but we can pitch and we can play defense.”
In the sixth, the Greeners made it academic with two additional runs.
Casanova legged out a triple to open the fifth and scored of Palmisano’s double to center as the Greeners’ lead grew to 3-0.
Palminsano eventually scored off a passed ball and Bristol scooped up a 4-0 edge.
There would be no comeback by Prospect as Bush shutout the offense until the final out was recorded.
But in the end, the game was all about Randall and the strides he’s been making this season on the mound.
“Today, he was on-point, hitting spots” said Mirmina of Randall. “All four pitches worked. He’s getting better.”