By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Over the last two seasons, the Bristol Knights of the Connecticut Twilight League have started the season slowly but finished with amazing postseason performances, leading to two consecutive league championships.
And after beginning the campaign at 0-2, the Knights nabbed first place in its division (the Central Division) behind a seven game winning streak and with a third of the season behind the squad, that 7-2 ledger is an impressive tally.
Knight General Manager Scott Dickens reported that “the Bristol bats have finally come alive to back up the consistently solid pitching and defense.”
And after the Bristol Eastern baseball squad disposed of Windsor 14-1 in the second round of the Class L state tournament on June 1, the Bristol Knights played it first contests of the year at Muzzy Field, knocking off division rivals East Hartford Angels (7-2) and the Chicago Sam’s Orioles (6-1).
One day later, the Knights traveled down to Dodd Stadium in Norwich – the home of the “A” Connecticut Tigers and “temporary” field of the Hartford Yardgoats – and took down Central division rival, the Elmer’s Silver Bullets by three runs (4-1).
And a cast of new and old have been making contributions for the Knights in 2016.
Former Plainville High School standout Tyler Favreau is leading the squad in batting with a slick .556 batting average while old hands Eddie Dickman and Rex ‘Six million dollar man’ Cone both were hitting .455.
The Knights pitching staff is led by Marco Ross with two victories and no ERA to speak of including 10 strikeouts in 12.1 innings of work.
Chris McGrath is also off to a sold start, carrying a 1-1 record with a 1.75 ERA,15 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.
Those nine games have been a good indicator of what the Knights’ season could be and here is a quick recap of the year:
Game One: Elmer’s Silver Bullets 4, Bristol Knights 0 – at Legend’s Field, Newington (May 11). Highlights: Bristol’s Kyle Lentini went 2-for-3 from the plate while Chris McGrath threw well in the losing effort.
Game Two: Chicago Sam’s Orioles 3, Bristol Knights 2 – at Bransfield Park, Portland (May 16). Highlights: Bristol’s Rex Cone went 3-for-3 while Tyler Favreau drew a tough loss off the mound as the Knights fell to 0-2.
Game Three: Bristol Knights 5, Portland Panthers 2 – from Clem J. Roy Field at Bristol Eastern High School (May 20). Highlights: The Knights rallied with a big sixth inning, pushing across five runs and breaking up a no-hitter for Portland. Bristol’s Justin Tokarz, Scott Dickens, Phil Rothkugel, and Kyle Lentini zipped out the hits, four overall, for the Knights.
Game Four: Bristol Knights 2, Brickhouse Indians 0 – at Sage Park, Berlin (May 23). Highlights: Marco Ross earned the victory for the Knights and Kyle Lentini saved the game, shutting out the Indians. Ricky Barrett added a double and RBI while Bristol played spectacular defense.
Game Five: Bristol Knights 9, East Hartford Angels 6 – at Martin Park, East Hartford (May 25). Highlights: Eddie Dickman, Bristol coach Brian LaRochelle, Barrett, and Rothkugel zipped out home runs in the game while Favreau chucked five solid innings – allowing just one earned run to earn the win for the Knights.
Game Six: Bristol Knights 6, Glastonbury Pirates 1 – from Clem J. Roy Field at Bristol Eastern High School (May 27). Highlights: Chris McGrath shutdown the Glastonbury offense over his six innings of work, tallying four strikeouts while veteran Drew Gallagher had two hits and an RBI to pace the Bristol offense.
Game Seven: Bristol Knights 7, East Hartford Angels 2 – from Muzzy Field, Bristol (June 1). Highlights: Bristol defeated the Angels using a balanced attack led by Dickman’s RBI triple and Favreau’s run scoring double. On the mound for the Knights, Tommy Stagis threw very well, allowing just two runs while punching out eight over five innings of work to earn the win.
Game Eight: Bristol Knights 6, Chicago Sam’s Orioles 1 – from Muzzy Field, Bristol (June 1). Highlights: The Knights’ Earl Oakes had the big hit, generating two RBI, to lead Bristol to the win. McGrath and Doug Rives split the game on the mound, combining to strike out 13 and allowed just four hits.
Game Nine: Bristol Knights 4, Elmer’s Silver Bullets 1 – at Dodd Stadium, Norwich (June 2): Highlights: Ross threw five strong innings, allowing three hits and no runs to earn the victory. Favreau came in late to earn the save while on offense, he smacked out three hits to lead the offense.
The Knights play a 26 game regular season with the playoffs commencing in August from Rotary Field in South Windsor.
The Knights are comprised mostly of local Bristol and nearby town players along with a few ESPN transplants to the area.
You can follow the team on twitter and Instagram @BristolKnights and the full schedule can be found at BristolKnights.com.
The squad is looking to repeat as Connecticut Twilight League champion for the third straight year and are off to a great start.