By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Bristol Eastern, the top seeded baseball squad in all of Class L play, takes on No. 4 East Lyme in the semifinal round to determine which team gets to go play for a state championship. The showdown takes place on Tuesday, June 7 at 7 p.m. from Palmer Field in Middletown – the site of the title game later this week.
For more on the game, here’s a closer look at the semifinal contest and the two teams:
Class L – Semifinal Round
The Game: No. 4 East Lyme (19-5) vs. No. 1 Bristol Eastern (21-2)
Location: Palmer Field, Middletown, 7:00 p.m.
Road to the Semifinals – East Lyme: The fourth ranked squad in all of Class L defeated No. 29 Guilford (5-3) in first round action, turned away No. 20 Platt (7-3) in second round play before sinking No. 5 Watertown (12-0) in the quarters (it is worthy of note that Watertown starting pitcher, Nick Mondak, twisted his right knee in practice and could not throw against East Lyme that day).This will be East Lyme’s third consecutive appearance in the Class L semifinal round.
The Regular Season: Lyme ended the regular season on a 16-game winning streak before dropping its first game of the ECC Tournament. The Vikings were 0-4 to start the year that included a 6-1 loss to RHAM, a squad from the Central Connecticut Conference that did not qualify for postseason play. East Lyme won five games this season by one run or less.
Who to Watch: Pitcher Dylan Feeney is one heck of a thrower and he three-hit a pretty good Watertown team in the quarters. Matt Malcom (4-for-4, 5 RBI against Watertown), Bennett Coe (2 RBI, three runs) and Matt Spang are the heart of the squad’s offense. Alex Tryon also adds a little speed to the group. The unit is a collection of several seniors and have certainly finished on top of several ups and downs this year.
Road to the Semifinals – Bristol Eastern: The Lancers were challenged in the first round by No. 32 Joel Barlow (2-0) but since that time, it was all smooth sailing for Eastern. In second round play, the Lancers easily won against No. 16 Windsor (14-1) and in the quarterfinals, No. 9 East Haven fell by a 6-1 push.
The Regular Season: The bottom line is no one, not one squad, was able to defeat Eastern in a seven inning contest this year. The Lancers were 18-0 in games that went eight innings or less. Only a 7-6 nine inning loss at Tolland and a 7-6, twelve stanza classic at Wethersfield were the blemishes on the Lancers’ ledger this year. This regular season, Eastern won nine one-run games and the 18 wins were a program record.
Who to Watch: Pick a position on offense or defense. They all have to be watched. Batter 1-through-9 can hit in the Eastern line-up. Whether it’s leadoff hitter Nate Hickey, Zach Marquis in left (who bats clean-up), or the Cory Fradette at short-stop (batting towards the bottom of the line-up), everyone hits and that’s the truth. Defensively, the unit is sharp as well which includes Fradette, Evan McGinley at second, Jake Violette at first, Brian McPhee at third, Greg Lozier behind the plate, and the likes of Adrian James in right and Hickey in centerfield. Oh yeah, there’s two pitchers who are pretty good too: CCSU bound Nate Carney and junior standout Tyler Troth who are a combined 17-0 this year. Troth will start the game for the Lancers against East Lyme.
Bristol Observer Prediction: Eastern is headed to the state championship round via a 7-2 win over East Lyme. And in terms of opponent, No. 11 Notre Dame-West Haven will smash No. 23 Avon to pieces – setting up the title game for the Lancers.