By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The 2013 Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League playoffs are upon us and the Bristol Greeners plan to make a very long appearance in the fray.
The Greeners are always a perennial playoff contender. But this year, the squad has reached new heights in terms of victories and earned a first round bye off its outstanding 16-5 record.
That record is the second best ledger in not just the Northern Division but overall in league play.
The Terryville Black Sox ended their season at 15-5 and was one of the few squads to drop a loss on the crafty Bristol squad.
For the fifth straight campaign, Greeners’ head coach Shawn Mirmina has done a masterful job mixing and matching talent and the 2013 club is certainly the best team Bristol has ever produced.
Due to that fast finish, Bristol has earned a bye in first round of the Tri-State Tournament.
“We came in second place and that gave us a first round bye,” in the playoffs said Bristol coach Shawn Mirmina. “That’s big for us.”
Several of the players aren’t just veterans on the Greeners but have seen action in other leagues like the Greater Hartford Twilight League, Bristol American Legion baseball and the like.
This is as experienced a crew as the Greeners have ever assembled and going into league play, Bristol has to be one of the favorites in the fray.
The Tri-Town Trojans, who defeated Bristol 3-0 from Community Field, easily won the Northern Division with a 20-1 ledger and led the league with 113 runs scored.
Tri-Town was Tri-State tournament runner-up in 2010 and 2011 and would like nothing better than to win it all this year.
The squad is loaded with talent and earned the number one overall seed in postseason play.
Terryville, the Wolcott Scrappers (14-6), and Naugatuck Dogs (14-5) also were top teams in Tri-State play as were the Waterbury Wild and Watertown Blaze, who each finished at 13-6 on the year.
But Bristol won’t be seeing any of those big boys in second round play.
Thanks to the bye, the Greeners earned a date with the Litchfield Cowboys starting on Sunday, Aug. 11 in a best of three series in which Bristol will have the home field advantage.
Litchfield was 11-7 in regular season play and actually hung a 6-1 loss on Bristol back on June 20 from Litchfield High School.
It was one of Bristol’s worst defeats of the campaign.
But defeating the Greeners again will be a tough assignment, let alone trying to do it twice in a three-game set.
Bristol scored 91 runs during the regular season – good for fourth in the league – while posting 4.33 runs-per-game, the sixth best clip in Tri-State.
The Greeners allowed just 45 runs per game for the season (coming out to only 2.14 runs-per-game by the opponent which was the third best mark) and that was good enough to be only the fourth most allowed in league play.
Litchfield, and every other opponent for that matter, will have trouble with Greeners’ veterans and pitching studs Mat Ziedzwiecki and Geoff Pierce while Joey Randall is a fresh, young arm and has proven he can throw with the best of them in the Tri-State League.
Bryan Wyrebek and Tyler Bush will be tough to tangle with out of the bullpen or in starting assignments and that gives Bristol versatility few teams in the Tri-State League enjoy on the mound.
Defensively, the Greeners will employ Tyler McIntyre (third base), John Pastyrnak and Nick Palmisano (short stop) along with David Casanova in centerfield (or second base if needed) along with Bush and Jimmy Hahn in the outfield.
With T.J. Wyrebek and Mirmina behind the plate to catch, it’s a tough duo to top.
Then, having to deal with the hot bats of Marco Ross, McIntyre, Casanova, Bush, and the like can be overwhelming – and daunting – for any and all opponents.
So whatever the case may be, the Greeners are ready for battle in postseason play.
The only unfortunate part of this first round bye is that the team won’t be playing together for nearly a two week stretch.
Some of Mirmina’s players played in the state tournament while he planned to gather the squad together for a little practice and the like before second round action commended.
Bush, Bryan Wyrebek, and Pierce all played in the state tournament.
“We have a little break but some of our guys (played in) the state tournament,” said Mirmina. “Those guys will stay fresh while the others will get a little batting practice and get their reps in.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE