By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – After a miserable three-game home stand that saw the Bristol American Legion baseball team go 1-2, the squad knows it has a lot of work to do in order to get the season back on track.
On Tuesday, June 17, Bristol slipped by Wallingford in a 2-1 non-exhibition victory but fell to Torrington 6-2 in a contest which was error plagued.
But even in that one-run win against Wallingford, the tying and go-ahead run were forced in by consecutive bases-loaded walks and not off base hits.
“I didn’t think we played that well yesterday,” said Bristol coach Jerry LaPenta of the 1-1 split. “We got a win [against Wallingford] but we didn’t earn it. We just kind of got it.”
Post 2 can’t expect that kind of fortunate luck to cross their path on a daily basis like that because when opponents come to Muzzy Field, Bristol always seems to encounter squads who are on their “A” games that day.
Torrington was certainly on its “A” game against Bristol and when Post 2 made a move, the visiting team countered to stuff out any gathered momentum.
And then the following day on Wednesday, June 18, Zone 1 leader Avon nearly buried Bristol in a 10-2 stomping.
Avon is certainly a very good program but Post 2 is much better than it showed that day.
In fact, the Bristol squad was three outs away from being mercy-ruled before Post 2 shook off some late cobwebs to tally a couple runs on the scoreboard to stave off a possible shortened game.
But it was too little too late in terms of a victory.
“I told them if they aspire to be professional players, you play every day,” said LaPenta. “When you come to the field, you’ve got to be ready to play. They’re still kids and they haven’t figured that part out.”
Dastardly errors and miscues – both physical and mental – have zapped some of the zip from the Bristol squad over the first portion of the campaign.
Sure the errors hurt but after the Avon contest, LaPenta had his squad running and sprinting on the field.
LaPenta is a supreme motivator and certainly sent a message to his squad when he didn’t like the squad’s body language off the losing effort.
“I told them I never get mad about errors,” said LaPenta. “I’m disappointed when they happen but I’m not mad about them. I’m more upset about the way the guys carried themselves after [the Avon game].
“It’s unacceptable and I told them that.”
LaPenta also doesn’t mind turning to his younger core if that will produce the desired results.
Against Avon, Bristol Central’s Jaeden Rasmus threw four innings of excellent relief ball and Bristol Eastern’s Greg Lozier threw a couple of runners out in the contest from the catching position.
And Post 2 also has gotten contributions from youngsters like CCC South All Conference performer Nate Carney, Central catcher Nick Sassu along with pitcher Ricky Lemke. It’s a young core that’s eager to compete and eager to learn.
LaPenta won’t hesitate to put those players into key positions, even if that means taking a lump or two along the way.
“If that means we’re going to lose 30 games, we’re going to lose 30 games,” said LaPenta. “I’ve just got to change the attitude about the way Legion baseball is going to be played.”
With that stretch of 11 games in 10 days, the squad got a much needed day off on Thursday, June 19 before getting back into the Zone 1 mix.
LaPenta has hope that this team can turn things around and get back into the Zone 1 race.
“I can’t play for them and, now, we’ll see what happens,” said LaPenta. “We [had a day off] for graduation and we’ll see what we get. We have talent, we just need to figure out how to put it together and have some chemistry.”
NOTES…The team bounced back nicely from the day off and walloped previously undefeated Simsbury 5-1 in a Zone 1 affair from Muzzy Field in Bristol.
After collecting 14 total hits over its previous three games, Bristol belted Post 84 for 11 hits and on the mound for Post 2, Jerry Lapenta got the job done.
After allowing a run to cross the plate in the first frame of play, LaPenta was nearly untouchable as he limited Simbury to just five total hits in the contest.
Post 2 made just one error in the game.
And then one day later on Saturday, June 21, Bristol fell again to Torrington by a 3-1 final.
Post 2 outhit Torrington 7-6 but it wasn’t enough as Jarrett Michaels absorbed another tough luck loss.
He went the distance and pitched well.
Bristol was ahead 1-0 halfway through the fifth inning before Torrington notched three runs in the bottom of the stanza to go ahead by two.
Post 2 never led in the contest again and for the first time in quite sometime, Torrington won the season series against Bristol.
In a special Sunday challenge, Post 2 dropped a 12-2 non-league decision to Warwick, R.I. in a nine-inning affair from Muzzy Field.
Warick smashed Bristol for 19 hits as Troy Micale pitched the loss for the home team.
Bristol was limited to just four hits in the contest and fell to 5-5 overall on the season.