By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – It’s always a strange sight to see the Bristol Central baseball squad competing near or around Bristol Eastern High School.
But it happens from time to time as the recent snow and rain has made McCooey Field on the campus of Bristol Central impossible to utilize.
So with the Kingstreeters out of town, the Rams took on Berlin – whose field at Sage Park is not in playable condition either – from DeWitt Page Park on Wednesday, April 5.
And in a contest Central head coach Bunty Ray termed “wild,” the Rams knocked off the Redcoats in their season opener by a 9-8 push to move to 1-0 on the young season.
It was an up and down affair as Berlin (0-1) trailed from the start but certainly made its presence felt throughout the showdown, taking a late lead before ultimately dropping the Central Connecticut Conference Interdivisional affair by a run.
Central struck first with four runs in the bottom of first inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Alec DiLoreto, Jacob Santiago, and Noah Plantamuro, making it a 3-0 game.
The fourth run of the frame came on a fielder’s choice off that bat of Eric Gaudreau to post the Rams a quick 4-0 lead.
However, that was just a sample of what was yet to come.
The Redcoats tacked on a run in the second stanza off starter Ken Knox (five innings, four hits, six strikeouts).
Central then added an insurance run in the fourth inning when Jeremey Ganavage singled and was driven in by Dathan Hickey’s loud RBI triple to make it a 5-1 tilt in the home team’s favor.
But the speedster on third base was looking to score.
And he did when a passed ball allowed him to sprint across the plate, propelling Central to an imposing 6-1 edge.
However, that five-run cushion would not be enough.
Berlin eventually took the lead in the contest with a two-run fifth and a four-run sixth and suddenly, the Redcoats went ahead in the fray by an 8-6 lead.
Knox gave up the two runs in the fifth and, with DiLoreto coming on in relief, the chucker gave up the four additional runs but even as a few balls in the outfield were botched, opening the door for Berlin to take the lead, a comeback bid was brewing by the locals.
Down by two in the bottom of the sixth frame, the Rams took advantage of Berlin miscues and capitalized and as the tomfoolery unfolded, Central took the lead for good.
Plantamuro led off the sixth with a double to deep centerfield as the tying run came up to bat.
After a second base error allowed a Central run to score, chopping the deficit to one at 8-7, Kevin White dropped in a single to left.
From there, Jalen Dias’s RBI single tied the game up at 8-8 and put White on second base as the go-ahead run was in scoring position
The ensuing pitch went into the dirt as White took off for third, arriving safely.
And off an errant throw to the third base bag, White scored the final run of the game to make it a 9-8 contest – this time in Central’s favor.
Steven Warkoski then picked up the win in relief for the Rams in the seventh inning, securing the victory, as Central opened the year with a win in the 9-8 contest.
Central played three games this past week, starting with a CCC South Blue Division battle from New Britain in a conference game, hoping to improve from the victory on opening day.