By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Muzzy Field was the battle ground between what turned into an amazing pitching display in second round, American Legion Northern Regional state tournament action on Sunday, July 17.
And in the end, two errors by Post 2 in the sixth inning led to doom and demise as the only run of the game was plated as Glastonbury used a little small-ball to tally that largely elusive run, defeating Bristol 1-0.
The loss eliminated the home squad from Connecticut state tournament competition while Glastonbury, ranked ninth in the North, earned a best-of-three challenge against top ranked Tolland for the right to move on in the fray.
Both pitchers were effective throughout the showdown as Glastonbury righty Drew Heymann and Bristol lefty, Brad Burney, conducted a bit of a pitching clinic into the later portions of the game.
And both aces had their curve-balls going.
Burney (3-2 overall) drew a tough loss as he went the distance, allowing only four hits, striking out seven and allowing one unearned run.
And Heymann was just as slick, yielding just two hits and punching out six batters.
Both pitchers did not allow a walk during the nip-and-tuck, seven inning affair.
But in the end, mistakes were the ultimate factor – propelling Glastonbury in the winning effort.
With one out in the top of the sixth in a scoreless game, Glastonbury’s Joe Mercier bunted his way on board and when Burney, who fielded the hit, threw the ball away at first base, the runner moved to second base to get into scoring position.
And when Rojan Molinari slapped a slow roller to shortstop, Fradette also chucked the ball away at first as Mercier easily crossed the plate and the unearned run gave Glastonbury a 1-0 push.
That lead would hold until the completion of the game.
“We had three [total] errors,” said Bristol coach Jerry LaPenta. “Glastonbury scored their run, you know, it was a bunt. Brad probably shouldn’t have thrown it. I don’t think he had a play. That gave them [a man on] second. And then the slow roller, you know, it was a tough play. It’s do or die. Fradette makes the play there, there’s two out.”
Offensively, “Big” Chadd Richardson got a hit as did Greg Lozier, but both players were not allowed to cross the plate.
“You’ve got to score to win,” said LaPenta.
Glastonbury got leadoff runners in two of the first four innings but were unable to generate a run out of it.
Mercier opened the game with a 0-2 single to right as the visitors got its first batter on.
Molinari followed up with a strikeout, Mercier was easily tagged out at second trying to advance a base and Ben Woodard also took strike three as Bristol quickly got to the plate.
But Bristol went three and out as well and the second inning was upon the teams with a 0-0 score in hand.
Burney sandwiched strikeouts around a bloop hit from Ben LaPlante but Glastonbury was unable to advance the runner into scoring position.
Heymann retired the Bristol side in order again and going into the third frame, both teams had not tallied a run.
In a stretch where Burney retired eight of nine batters, he was in the groove and going into the bottom of the third, Post 2 was trying to generate its first hit.
And Lozier came through with a short shot to right that just slipped in for a hit but Micale immediately popped out to end the inning.
Molinari opened the fourth with a fly ball to left but Marquis dropped it as the runner hustled all the way to second with the error put the runner in scoring position.
Woodard then bounced a grounder off Burney’s leg and as the pitcher got the out at first, the lead runner made it to third with one out.
Kimball followed with a strikeout and LaPlante flew to right – ending the threat – as Bristol escaped the gaffe to keep the score at nil.
And through four, Heymann faced two batters above the minimum as the squads were at a dead heat going into the fifth tilt.
Burney fanned Aiden Scott to open the fifth frame and when Johnny Rosadino flew out to Marquis in left, Bristol was back up at the plate.
Heymann refused to yield as he struck out the final two batters of the fifth, throwing just 52 pitches through five innings of work, as the 0-0 tally moved into the sixth stanza of play.
After nabbing a one run via the two Bristol miscues, Molinari then got caught trying to steal third and when Woodard flew out to right, the visiting unit held the advantage midway through the sixth frame.
“The kid [Mercier] made a nice bunt, and the other kid [Molinari], hit it off the end of the bat, that was the killer,” said LaPenta. “If he hits that harder, it’s a double-play ball.”
Mazzone was plunked by a pitch with two outs in the sixth and Bristol had the tying run on base.
But Marquis flew out and going into the seventh, Glastonbury’s 1-0 lead was holding.
Barney then went through the seventh inning without any problems – throwing a total of 74 pitches – as Bristol needed something to happen on the scoreboard with the three outs it had remaining.
Richardson opened up the bottom of the seventh as the clean-up hitter was looking to get on-base but instead, struck out.
Pinch hitter Nick Sassu lined the first pitch he saw to second base and Fradette struck out as Glastonbury held on to win it, 1-0.
Bristol completed its postseason at 1-1 and went 21-11 overall this season but still will participate in the Northeast Regional, starting on Aug. 3.
“I wasn’t disappointed in the way we played,” said LaPenta. “Guys hit the ball pretty good and we didn’t get that many base-runners but neither did they. I knew once the game started going, I knew it was going to come down to whomever makes a mistake.”