By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – A promising start for the Bristol Greeners on Thursday, July 17 turned into another tough outing as the Winsted Whalers made a big comeback in a Tri-State League showdown.
The Whalers fell behind early in its encounter with the Greeners but in the end, Winsted came from behind and racked up an 11-4 victory for their fourth victory of the campaign (4-11) in a contest played at Page Park in Bristol.
The Greeners (4-10) led 3-0 right off the bat and chased the Winsted starting pitcher out of the game with just one out gone in the contest.
But Winsted’s Adam Piechowski came into the game to throw, stopped the bleeding and eventually held on to win the event.
Piechowski pitched the final 6 2/3 innings in relief for the win and simply threw strikes, staying in front of Bristol batters all the way long.
“We had a good start to the game,” said Bristol coach Shawn Mirmina. “We had three runs in the first inning. Then they switched pitchers. We’ve faced Adam (Piechowski) plenty of times before. We knew once he came in, it was going to be a different ball game.”
Piechowski struck out 10 and walked only two for the Whalers.
Winsted’s offense only generated six hits in the fray but certainly took advantage of several walks and free passes that the Greeners allowed.
Ben Schumacher tallied up three hits and three RBI to lead the Winsted contingent.
Also for the Whalers, Ricky Langer and Drew McCarthy scored three runs apiece.
Langer drilled out a double, walking twice, while Charlie Putnam had three RBI off a single, a groundout and a bases loaded walk.
It wasn’t all bad for Bristol as Mat Niedzwiecki returned to the mound for the Greeners and over his first four frames, he didn’t allow Winsted much in terms of offense.
He pitched five innings, striking out eight over the first four frames but he walked five batters – three of which scored – and absorbed a tough loss as Bristol trailed 5-4 after five innings of action.
While he might have run out of gas midway through the fifth stanza, Niedwiecki showed exactly what he can bring to the table for the Greeners on the hill when in tip-top form.
“He hasn’t had the same amount of reps as he usually has,” said Mirmina of Niedwiecki. “He started to get tired in the fifth and that’s when we had our bad inning. He usually has better control than he had today. He just got tired.”
Bristol out-hit Winsted as Mitch Guilmette went a clean 3-for-3 with two scored runs and an RBI while Nick Briatico smashed out two doubles and notched two RBI.
Connor Hayes zipped out a hit and also threw 1.1 innings of scoreless ball in relief, Nick Plachno etched a single while James Harlow added a base hit to centerfield to lead the Greeners’ offensive charge.
Even off the 5-4 deficit, Bristol was still hanging around the contest to start the sixth frame.
But Harlow, taking charge on the mound for Bristol, had a tough outing after striking out the first batter of the inning.
Winsted rang him for six runs as Harlow walked seven batters in the tilt.
While the visitors had just two hits in the sixth inning, the Whalers ended the stanza in charge at 11-4.
“It really comes down to (having) one bad inning,” said Mirmina of the game.
But it hardly began that way as the Greeners’ defense started the game off a 1-2-3 inning and looked poised at the plate to open things.
In the first, Hayes singled to left to get on base and Guilmette tripled him home as Bristol went ahead in the contest 1-0.
With one out, Briatico launched a fly-ball over the center fielder’s head – scoring Guilmette – as the two-base, RBI tally made it a 2-0 contest.
Finally, Plachno unleashed a single up the middle – as the fielder in center let the ball get by him – and off the miscue, Briatico scored to make it an early 3-0 push for the Greeners.
Langer got Winsted going in the third as his RBI grounder led to a run while an infield gaff by the home team also yielded the Whalers a tally on scoreboard as Bristol’s lead was trimmed to 3-2.
But the Greeners grabbed a run in the bottom of the inning to gain a 4-2 advantage.
With one out, Guilmette beat out an infield hit to short and advanced to second base via a throwing error.
He advanced to third off a grounder from T.J. Wyrebek and then scored off a blazing double to left by Briatico as Bristol went in front of Winsted by a couple of runs.
But in the fifth, the Whalers took the advantage for good.
The visitors scored three times in the fifth to go ahead by one, 5-4, and then blew the game open in the sixth.
Off the six run explosion, Winsted went in front by seven and Bristol never recovered.
In the end, the 11-4 loss saw the Greeners fall for the ninth straight time this season.
But speaking of time, there’s still a chance for Bristol to sneak into the Tri-State League playoffs if the Greeners can get something going over the next week of the season or so.
“If we want to squeeze into the playoffs, every game at this point matters,” said Mirmina.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE