By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Wrapping up second place in the Northern Division would be a first for the Bristol Greeners of the Tri-State Baseball League over its five year history.
And against Burlington on Saturday, July 27, the Greeners did just that in the second game of what turned into a doubleheader.
Mat Niedzwiecki threw a strong five innings for Bristol as the squad racked up 10 hits in its 8-2 victory over the Hunters from Page Park.
It wasn’t Niedzwiecki’s strongest outing of the season but any time he takes the mound, the opponent is in for a rough day.
He gave up just four hits, leading to two runs, while striking out six and walking only two to sew up another win on the mound.
“Mat didn’t have his best stuff today but he battled,” said Bristol coach Shawn Mirmina. “That’s what he does. He didn’t strike out as many guys as he usually does, he wasn’t as accurate as he usually was, but he still found a way to win and that’s all that matters at this point.”
With the Bristol defense in control, the offense was free to put up eight runs on the scoreboard and nabbed the lead from the start.
Dave Casanova was the offensive leader as he went 3-of-4 with a run and an RBI while Nick Palmisano – who was a strange sight manning left field on the afternoon – went 2-of-3 and tallied a team leading three RBI.
“We put him in the outfield today,” said Mirmina of Palminsano. “He can play anywhere pretty much. He’s a Division I player, come up there with us and we expect big things out of him.”
Just about everyone contributed offensively as Tyler Bush went 1-for-3 and drove in a run while Marco Ross continued his hitting streak by going 1-of-3 with a double, an RBI and two scored runs.
Bush also pitched the final inning for Bristol and racked up two strikeouts in the process.
TJ Wyrebek was 1-of-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base while John Pastyrnak went 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Bryan Wyrebek was 1-for-3 with two scored runs and a stolen base while pitching a flawless sixth inning in relief of Niedzwiecki.
Burlington chucker Jay Pelletier hung around for a complete game effort, walking two batters for his troubles, but absorbed a tough loss.
Four errors prolonged his stay on the mound during a couple of the innings but after the first stanza, he gave up only one additional run until the fifth frame.
Brady Hecht, Josh Lamoute, Matt Dablain, and Steve Caruso all tallied hits for the Hunters, now 5-14.
Bristol scored four runs in the bottom of the first to end any suspense in the game as Ross drove in a run off an error, Pastyrnak drew a base-on-balls to force one in and Palmisano dropped in a two-RBI single to push the Greeners lead to 4-0.
In the third, Burlington got on the board as it loaded the bases for leadoff hitter Alex Hanson.
Hanson smashed a fly-ball to left which was caught by Palmisano for the first out of the frame.
But Josh Lamoute crossed the plate for the visitors first run of the game as the deficit was cut to 4-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Bryan Wyrebek reached base via error, advanced off a wild pitch by Pelletier and zipped across the plate via an RBI single to left by Casanova to give the Greeners a 5-1 edge after four completed frames.
In the top of the fifth, Caruso landed a single in right that scored Hecht as the Hunters trailed by just three runs at 5-2 before Bristol added two additional tallies to the board.
With one out, Ross doubled deep to center, advanced to third off a wild pitch, and scored when a throwing error by Burlington catcher Mike Bahlmen was chucked into left field that make it a 6-2 game.
With T.J. Wyrebek, who drew a walk and later stole second while onboard, Palmisano jammed a double down the third base-line as the lead runner scored to make it a 7-2 affair.
In the sixth, Bryan Wyrebek reached first base safely off an error and stole second to get into scoring position.
A single by Bush scored Wyrebek and by the completion of the stanza, the Greeners were in front 8-2 and that lead stood until the final out of the contest was recorded.
Coupled with Bristol’s 7-2 win against Hunters earlier in the afternoon, the Greeners finished the season in second place in the Northern Division with one game left to play against Amenia of New York.
“All around, we played solid today,” said Mirmina. “It was nice taking both games.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE