By MICHAEL LETENDRE
TORRINGTON – When it came to the third and final game of the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball North Divisional Championship, it wasn’t the pitching that failed the Bristol Greeners’ squad that led to the loss.
In fact, with most of its stellar pitching rotation out of the state, Bristol did remarkably well off the mound with its remaining staff onsite.
But in its rubber match against top seeded Tri-Town, errors did-in the Greeners squad as the Trojans wrapped it up in a series-ending 7-3 win from Fuessenich Park in Torrington on Sunday, August 18.
Tri-Town (24-3) moved on to the Tri-State World Series to square off against Naugatuck to determine the ultimate victor of the league.
Bristol finished off an impressive campaign at 19-7 but lost its final two games to the best outfit the Tri-State League had to offer.
In its final challenge of the season, the squads locked horns in a 2-2 stalemate going into the bottom of the sixth inning when starter Geoff Pierce (seven hits, two strikeouts, no earned runs) gave up back-to-back singles to Kyle Osolin (1-for-3, two runs) and Joel Judson (2-for-4, two runs) to end his stint on the mound.
Macro Ross, who hasn’t pitched since the Stone Age, came in to replace Pierce on the mound and gave up a quick infield hit to Casey McDonald to load up the bases with no outs on the board.
Ross then tallied two quick strikeouts and was just about to pitch his way out of the jam.
But two errors and three unearned runs later, the Trojans rode up a 5-2 edge in the game and never looked back.
In all, four errors led the Greeners to doom and demise on the evening.
“Defense is usually our strength, and today, we were let down by our defense,” said Bristol coach Shawn Mirmina. “We thought going into this series, our pitching would be our question mark but really, our pitching was pretty good.”
Pierce was brilliant and Ross was too and it appeared that the latter ended the sixth frame off a ground-ball by John Callahan that was heading right at second basemen John Pastyrnak.
But the ball took a misleading hop and bounced away from the second basemen as he attempted to field it.
Osolin quickly crossed the plate to give Tri-Town a 3-2 push.
Connor Murray followed by smashing a ball to Tyler Bush at third base but his throw went wild to first – leading to two additional runs – as the Trojans zipped up a 5-2 lead after six.
“Geoff comes back on one day’s rest and gave us six quality innings,” said Mirmina. “Marco comes in and he gets a big ground ball that…the ball took a funky hop on (Pastyrnak) but that play was a big play right there.”
Tri-Town starting pitcher Jordie Scheiner – who won game two off a four hit shutout – was rocked for seven hits and two runs as Bristol made some excellent adjustments on the chucker to knock him out of the fray early.
Bristol scored a run right off the bat in the first inning as Nick Palmisano (2-for-5) doubled to centerfield and then scored off an RBI single by Ross as the Greeners went in front 1-0.
A sacrifice fly by Mike Fabiaschi (1-for-2, RBI) in the third inning tied things up a 1-1 but Bristol responded in the fourth frame.
In the fourth, Pastyrnak scored via a single by Matt Godbout (2-for-5, RBI) that bounced off the third base bag and took a funny roll away from everyone as the Greeners went ahead 2-1.
But in the bottom of the tilt, a base hit by Joe Bunnell (2-for-5) scored Judson and once again made it a tied affair, this time at 2-2.
Once Tri-Town took the lead off the miscues in the sixth, Bristol went right back at it, loading the bases right up with two outs as Ross represented the go-ahead run in the ballgame.
But Ross was struck-out by eventual victor Sam Shurberg (2.1 innings, one hit, three strikeouts) as Bristol still trailed by three runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, McDonald’s two-out, two-RBI double increased the Trojans lead to 7-2 with time running out on the Greeners.
In the eighth, with the spread still at five, Tri-Town ace pitcher Miles Scribner came in to throw but one frame later, Bristol roughed him up a bit.
David Casanova (2-for-5) started the ninth with a single, stole second, and advanced to third off a bad throw by the catcher trying to gun-down him down.
Palmisano then hit a single to left field to score Casanova as Bristol cut the deficit to 7-3.
Ross later zipped a single to center but with two runners on, Scribner tallied two quick outs as Tri-Town won it by four and advanced to World Series play with the win.