By MICHAEL LETENDRE
With postseason implications on the line, the Bristol Blues finished out the final week of the 2016 campaign with most of its games coming on the road.
And with the American Legion Northeast Regional Baseball Tournament in town, Bristol finished its season with six games away from home.
But, ending the year on a five-game losing streak, the Blues were knocked out of the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the past week’s action:
It all started on Sunday, July 31, dropping a tough 4-1 decision to Brockton from Campanelli Stadium in front of 1,037 fans.
Sebastian DiMauro pitched extremely well for the Blues, allowing just six hits and one earned run over 6.1 innings of work.
He struck out six, walked only two, but absorbed a tough loss in the process – losing for only the second time all season long.
The Blues were limited to only five hits and the one run but struck out a combined 12 times over the losing effort.
No Bristol player angled up more than one hit in the game but Lorenzo Arcuri, Logan Greene, Jimmy Titus, Frankie Gregoire, and Tyler Roberts all rambled up base hits.
Mike Kreiger, Mike Munson (no hits, 1 K) and Adam Goss some time on the mound for the Blues.
Nashua Silver Knights
The next night, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, the Blues played their final home game in front of the Muzzy faithful against the Nashua Silver Knights.
It was fan appreciation night as there were postgame fireworks, a free team photo giveaway, an autograph session, and raffle prize giveaways.
And the Blues certainly showed appreciation on the field as Bristol sank the Knights 6-0 to move to 23-26 on the campaign.
The shutout, witnessed by over 3,000 fans, was spurred on by the three-headed pitching monster of Ben Brown, Goss, and Munson.
Brown earned the win behind a 6.1 inning, two-hit, four strikeout affair as he lowered his already outstanding ERA to 1.08 for the season.
Gross worked 0.2 of an inning to get Bristol through the seventh and Munson earned another save with his two-inning appearance.
The standout from Plainville allowed one hit and struck out two for his second save of the campaign.
Munson threw 26 pitches and 17 went for strikes.
With the home portion of the schedule behind them, the Blues then traveled to battle the Torrington Titans on Wednesday, Aug. 3 in a showdown from Fuessenich Park in what was a “must-win” for Bristol.
It was a tough loss for the locals as the Blues, leading by a 4-1 push midway through the showdown, dropped a tough 5-4 decision as the Titans notched four straight runs to end the contest with just under 400 fans watching the action.
Teddy Carey did well in his five innings of work as he gave up just four hits, one earned run while striking out four for the visitors.
Bristol’s own Mike Nocera then came in for two innings of relief ball – allowing four hits, three earned runs and two K’s but did not factor in the ultimate decision.
Kreiger absorbed a tough loss as he went 0.2 innings but gave up the go-ahead run.
The Blues blasted out nine hits as Titus went 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI.
Roberts, Gregoire, and Liam Scafariello collected doubles for Bristol while Grover, Chris Villa and Dylan Morris all smashed out hits for the visiting unit.
North Shore Navigators
Bristol then followed up the one-run loss at Torrington with an equally disheartening 5-4 setback to North Shore from Frasier Field in front of 367 paying customers.
Against the Navigators, Bristol had the game tied up at 1-1 before allowing four runs to cross the plate in the bottom of the second as the contest was quickly lost.
The Blues out-hit the Nav’s 9-6 as Grover led the charge with three hits, including a homer, and three RBI while Greene (2-for-4, double, run) and Titus (2-of-4, run) slapped the ball around the park.
Starting pitcher Shane Bierfeldt didn’t get out of the second inning, allowing two hits, five walks, and four earned runs to post the loss.
Jared Gallagher and Kreiger also threw some innings while Munson mopped up.
Munson came in to pitch the final frame, issuing just one hit and a strikeout as his ERA fell to 1.17 on the season.
Nashua Silver Knights, doubleheader
And then on Friday, Aug. 5, Bristol was in action against Silver Knights in another pair of “must-win’ games that would have kept the Blues in the playoff picture.
However, the locals dropped both games – falling to 0-4 over its last four games and going 2-8 over its last 10 – as the Navigators won the games by 5-4 and 6-3 finals.
In game one, a contest scheduled for seven innings, the game was all tied up at 4-4 and an additional stanza was needed.
During that eighth stanza, Munson was on the mound for Bristol and after getting the first two outs of the frame, Harry Roberson and Yanni Thanopoulas each singled and when Mickey Gasper walked onboard, the bases were loaded for Ryan Sullivan.
Sullivan took an 0-2 pitch and smacked out the game winning hit as Roberson scored to propel Nashua to the win from Holman Stadium in New Hampshire.
With the loss, Munson fell to 0-2 on the season but with an 1.82 ERA, the reliever would bounce back for another day.
Nocera saw action in the contest as well, going 2.1 innings, giving up just one hit, walking two and striking out one.
Roberts generated two of Bristol’s six hits in the game as one of his tallies went for two bases.
In game two, the Blues fell out of the playoff race with a three-run loss to the Silver Knights in front of 2,345 fans by a 6-3 final.
Bristol’s Jacob Wallace went four innings on the mound, giving up five runs off eight hits while striking out four.
Nashua outhit Bristol 10-9 but the trio of Arcuri, Scott, and Christian Budiz all ramped up two hits apiece while Austin Chauvin was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI.
To finish the season off on Saturday, Aug. 6, the Bristol Blues dropped a disappointing 4-2 decision to finish the campaign nine games below .500 and out of the playoff picture.
Torrington rolled up a 4-0 edge through four innings of work and truly never looked back.
Zach Scott ended the season by going 2-of-2 with two walks and a double to lead Bristol while Gregoire went 2-of-3.
Arcuri nabbed a hit, stole a base, and had two RBI while Titus added a double in the losing effort.
The Titans out-hit the Blues 11-7 while DiMauro started the game on the mound for Bristol, posting 5.2 innings of quality ball.
Overall, DiMauro allowed six hits, three earned runs, three walks and fanned seven overall in the tough lose.
Goss and Nocera also saw action as the latter went an inning, allowing one hit but struck out two to keep Torrington off the scoreboard.
The FCBL Postseason
The top six teams in the FCBL qualify for the postseason and Bristol did not finish in that mix.
The Blues ended the season at 23-32, 13 games in back of West champion Worcester (35-18).
By the percentages, Bristol (.418) was the eighth highest finisher in the final FCBL standings.
The loss to Torrington ended the 2016 campaign.