By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Another top-ten showdown for the Bristol Eastern baseball team saw the Lancers take on Berlin in a CCC South interdivisional challenge with the Class L top seed hanging in the balance.
And this one, in the end, belonged to the Lancers.
Eastern scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings and edged Berlin 2-1 in another brilliantly played contest from Clem J. Roy Field on the campus of Bristol Eastern.
With the victory, the Lancers moved to 15-1 overall and the squad was winner of 14 straight games – the second longest streak in school history and only last season’s squad won more consecutive games.
Berlin fell to 13-2 overall and fell to second place in the Class L standings.
Again, the only blemish on the Lancers’ slate came against Tolland in a 7-6, nine inning loss as Eastern has yet to taste defeat in seven-inning play.
The game featured an excellent pitching dual between the Lancer’s Nate Carney and the Redcoat’s Brendan Ebert, who both pitched complete games.
Carney, in the winning effort, moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season for Eastern.
Ebert fell to 5-2 and was carrying a team best 0.41 ERA before the latest setback.
Both pitchers worked efficiently and quickly as the showdown took just one hour and 35 minutes to play.
And, just like the 1998 New York Yankees did time and time again – on its way to another World Series Championship – Eastern trailed early but found a way to tie it up and, eventually, take the game in the end.
Berlin scored an unearned run in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead in the game.
To notch that run, Cote Libby led off and lined a single up the middle to put a runner onboard.
Libby then stole second on the first pitch to Nick Naples who was the next Berlin batter.
Naples hit an infield grounder which was mishandled by Eastern, a bad throw to Carney covering first could not be cleanly handled – and Berlin had runners on first and third with no one out.
Carney struck out the next batter but Libby was able to score on an RBI groundout to give Berlin the 1-0 lead.
On the play, Eastern’s Evan McGinley stepped on second for the force out but could not complete the double play as the Redcoats drew first blood.
During that time, Ebert was cruising on the mound for the Redcoats.
Eastern had only two hits off Ebert over the first six innings, a double to deep left by Carney leading off the third and a single between third and short by Greg Lozier leading off the fourth as Berlin took that 1-0 edge into the bottom of the seventh.
The Lancers were three outs away from dropping a tough decision but instead, the home squad went right to work.
In the bottom of the seventh, Eastern’s Adrian James led off and was drilled by a pitch – on a 1-2 count – and the tying run was onboard.
Ebert then retired Zach Marquis on a fly-out to right but James took second on a wild pitch to get into scoring position.
The Berlin chucker then generated the second out on a groundout to short but quickly McGinley came through in the clutch.
He lined an RBI base hit to left to score James for the tying run, making it a 1-1 contest, forcing extra innings.
Berlin threatened in the top of the eighth, quickly loading up the bases but that go-ahead run never came across the plate.
With one out, Andrew Charbonneau reached first base via an infield single.
Carney generated the second out on a fielder’s choice but Libby then blooped a single to short right as runners occupied first and second.
Naples followed with an infield single to juice the bases but Carney earned his squad the final out.
Carney recorded his ninth strikeout of the game to end the Berlin eighth as Eastern was looking for the winning run.
In the bottom of the eighth, with one out, Eastern’s Cory Fradette doubled to left-center and the Lancers had the go-ahead runner on.
With Nate Hickey at the plate, Fradette moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored the winning on another thrown away ball when Hickey drew a walk.
Fradette quickly rushed home plate, scored the game’s final run and in the end, the 2-1 victory was another glorious one run triumph for the Lancers – the eighth of the year for the program.
The Lancers broke the Redcoats’ four game winning streak as the only other team Berlin lost to this season was Plainville – by a 2-1 push back on May 5 from Zipadelli Field at Sage Park in Berlin.
Carney, now 6-0, allowed eight hits overall but did not yield an extra-base hits.
In fact, out of all the singles, three went for infield hits as Carney never gave up more than one hit per inning other than the eighth frame.
He did not yield a free pass, struck out nine, gave up just the one unearned run and won the game on Eastern’s biggest stage of the year.
Ebert allowed four hits, struck out four and allowed the two runs to fall for the second time this season.
He yielded two base-on-balls, one to Jake Violette in the second inning, who was thrown out trying to steal a ball and one to Hickey, in the eighth and final batter of the game.
NOTES…The Lancers winning streak of 14 games started on April 11 and carried over a full month now…Last season, when Eastern started its 16-game blitz, the streak went from April 27 to June 4 – ending with that 3-2 loss to Bunnell on June 4 (Bunnell will not be a postseason participant this year)…To end the season in 2015, the Lancers went 16-1 and with the current tear the squad is on, Eastern was 31-2 over its past thirty-three games with just two one-win losses on its slate.
BRISTOL EASTERN 2, BERLIN 1 (8)
from Clem J. Roy Field on the campus of Bristol Eastern
Berlin (13-2) 000 100 00 – 1 8 0
Bristol Eastern (15-1) 000 000 11 – 2 4 1
Berlin: Brendan Ebert & Jared Zima; Bristol Eastern: Nate Carney & Greg Lozier
WP – Nate Carney, Bristol Eastern (6-0)
LP – Brenda Ebert, Berlin (5-2, was carrying a team best 0.41 ERA into the game)
2B – Nate Carney (BE), Cory Fradette (BE)
3B – None
HR – None
Records: Bristol Eastern 15-1 overall; Berlin 13-2