by BRIAN JENNINGS
After garnering just one win through the franchise’s worst week thus far on the year, the Bristol Blues baseball team turned the page and their season around this past week. The Blues went 4-2 after defeating the Pittsfield Suns twice and splitting games with the Seacoast Mavericks, finishing with a total of 72 hits in six games.
“We’ve been swinging the bat really well lately,” said Blues manager Pat Riley. “We’re finally starting to come around offensively, as we thought we would. But the recent success can be attributed to our bats. It’s not just a few guys, it’s everyone. And it’s starting to catch on a little bit.”
Bristol may have had their best week at the plate after defeating the Mavericks with a season record of 18 hits, but the Blues continued to shuffle the cards on the mound, allowing 12 walks with five different pitchers against the North Shore Navigators.
“We brought in some new arms and put them in different situations, but we just have to piece it together,” the manager said. “We have to figure out what guys can do, and what best suits this team. That comes as simple as throwing strikes. You have absolutely no shot with 12 walks.”
With two weeks left in the regular season, Riley said that he is still a strong believer of not only getting into the playoffs, but hosting a first-round game.
“That’s huge,” said Riley. “We play well here, and the fan base is incredible. It’s important to us. Muzzy is a great place to play and we want to be here if we can. But first and foremost, it’s about getting in.”
July 19—Bristol started off the week by defeating the Brockton Rox for the first time this season by a run, 3-2, at home on Tuesday, July 19.
The Rox took an early 1-0 lead with a run in the second inning, but Austin Chauvin drove in Nick Conti on a base hit to tie the game in the fourth. Frankie Gregoire followed up with a triple that scored Chauvin in the next at-bat to give the team a one-run advantage, 2-1.
The Rox responded with a run in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2. However, with two outs and a runner on third in the eighth, Jimmy Titus brought Conti in to score the winning run on a RBI double.
Tyler Roberts paced the Blues by going 2-for-3, and Conti went 2-for-4.
Paul Versteeg started on the mound and went five and a third innings, allowing five hits, an earned run, and a walk. Mike Munson relieved Versteeg to go an inning and two-thirds, and Mike Kreiger closed to pick up his third win of the season.
July 20—The next day, the Blues continued East-Division play when they traveled to Leary Field in Portsmouth, N.H., but fell short after tagging the Mavericks for 18 hits by a run, 9-8.
The Mavericks built a commanding 5-run lead after two innings of play, but the Bristol battled back with seven runs off of nine hits in the next couple of innings to steal the lead, 7-5.
Seacoast regained the lead, 9-7 with four runs in the next two innings, and the Blues fell short with just a run in the eighth.
Chauvin went 3-for-4 with a RBI on a sacrifice fly, a run scored, and a double. Gregoire went 2-for-4 with two RBI, two runs scored, and a homerun (6th). Lorenzo Arcuri went 3-for-6 with three runs scored, a RBI, his first homerun of the season, and a double. Conti went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, a triple, and a double. Logan Greene went 3-for-5 as well.
Teddy Carey started on the mound and went five innings with three strikeouts, seven hits, six walks, and four earned runs. Michael Nocera received the loss after allowing three runs (1 earned) and two hits in an inning. Ben Brown relieved Nocera, and Randy Polonia threw his first game in a Blues uniform this year.
July 21—Twelve hits shot the Blues out to an 8-5 victory over the Suns when Bristol returned home on Thursday.
The Blues held a slim 6-4 lead by the seventh inning after both teams equaled each other with four runs each in the sixth, but the Blues outscored the Suns, 2-1, in the eighth to seal the win.
Arcuri powered Bristol’s lineup with a pair of RBI, a triple, a double, and a walk, going 3-for-4. Gregoire went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Roberts went 2-for-3 with a RBI, a run scored, and a walk. Conti went 2-for-5 and batted in a run.
Scott Creedon got his third start on the mound, going five and a third innings with six hits four earned runs, and three walks. Adam Goss was credited with his first win of the season after getting just two outs in relief of Creedon. Brown went an inning and two-thirds, and Kreiger closed to get his second save on the year.
Pittsfield Suns (doubleheader)
July 22—The lumber continued to favor Bristol the next night at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. when they lit up the Suns for 15 hits in a seven-inning, 15-3 triumph.
The Blues jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings, but eight runs off of seven hits in the fourth put the exclamation point on the win. The Suns committed five errors in the contest.
Zach Scott marshaled Bristol’s attack with two RBI and two runs scored, going 3-for-4 with a homerun (4th) and a double as well. Conti went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a RBI. Greene went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Liam Scafariello went 2-for-4 with a RBI, a run scored, and a walk. Chauvin went 2-for-5 with three RBI, a run scored, and a double.
Izzy Fuentes (2.27 ERA) pitched a complete game with 13 strikeouts, seven hits, and two earned runs.
Game one of the doubleheader was postponed.
July 23—The Blues’ bats connected again on Saturday, giving the team double-digit hits for a fourth-straight game in a 7-4 victory over the Mavericks.
The Mavericks took a 4-0 edge over Bristol after the top of the second inning, but the Blues rallied back with a pair of scores in the bottom of the second, third, and fourth innings.
The Blues finished with 12 hits. Chauvin went 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. Arcuri went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a walk. Chris Villa went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Sebastian DiMauro started on the mound and achieved his first win on the year, going seven innings with eight strikeouts, eight hits, four earned runs, and three walks. Brown relieved DiMauro, and Nocera closed to earn his first save of the season.
North Shore Navigators
July 24—The fuse from the hot bats eventually burnt out the next night at home when Bristol suffered their 23rd loss, 11-3, to the Navigators.
The Blues tied the game at 3-3 with a triad of runs in the fifth inning, but North Shore navigated to the win by scoring at least one run in the next four innings. The Navigators outhit the Blues, 11-6, while Bristol committed four errors in the game. Grover went 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored.
Jared Gallagher started on the mound and went four and a third innings with eight strikeouts, six walks, five hits, and two earned runs. Shane Bierfeldt was charged with the loss after pitching four outs in relief of Gallagher in his first game as a Blue. Polonia, Munson, and Nocera saw some time on the mound as well.
Bristol is currently in second place in the West Division of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, nine games back of the Worcester Bravehearts (30-14) and three games ahead of the Torrington Titans.
The Blues (21-23) will push for a home game in the first round of the postseason this week with games against the Navigators (21-24), the Titans (17-25), the Mavericks (28-15), and the Rox (20-23).