By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Continuation games are never fun in American Legion baseball and over the years, the squad from Bristol has been majorly burned by them.
And, once again, that situation came to pass on Thursday, June 22 when Terryville came to Muzzy Field to finish up a contest that was called on June 16 due to on-going rain.
It was a game that saw Bristol etch up a 3-0 lead as ace chucker Wes Lahey was cruising with a no-hitter into the seventh and final inning of play.
But a couple Terryville players were hit by a pitch, two infield hits were dished out and after a fielder’s choice, the tilt was knotted up at 3-3 with only one out gone in the seventh.
Runners were on first and third when things restarted but after a tough 6-5, eighth inning loss to Southington in the previous game of what turned into a doubleheader that night, Bristol could have packed it in entirely.
“It was a very tough loss,” said Bristol coach Jerry LaPenta of the defeat to Southington. “[And then against Terryville], we’re in a tough spot. We give up the run to go ahead. We could have easily just hung our heads and took another loss but [we didn’t].”
The game continued as Terryville’s Dom Zappone suicide squeezed the lead runner home as
Terryville went ahead in the fray, 4-3, in the top of the seventh inning.
And just like that, a 3-0 lead was no more and the locals were down to its final three outs – needing to respond with at least one run.
The new Terryville pitcher, Zappone, came in for relief of the original chucker Drew Collevechio but had trouble finding the plate to start.
Bristol’s Mike Lemke walked on four consecutive balls and the go-ahead run was up at-bat.
After five straight balls, Zappone finally generated a strike but a sacrifice bunt by Ben Mazzone put Lemke into scoring position.
Then Cory Fradette smashed a ball to the shortstop, Lemke distracted the fielder from second base, and the rushed throw to first went high and long, allowing the runners to arrive at second and third safely off the gaffe.
Zach Marquis then struck out but with “Big” Chadd Richardson up at bat with two outs, one hit would bring the winning runs home.
But it was the tomfoolery portion of the game and that big hit, in the end, was not required.
With Fradette on second, he quickly darted off the base, trying to draw a throw which would allow Lemke to score from third and tie things up at 5-5.
But the pitcher opted to throw home, lofting the ball over the catcher’s head, which slowly rolled to the backstop as the wild pitch spelled doom and demise for Terryville.
“I had a play on there, that’s why Cory scored because he was running,” said LaPenta. “And I think by him running, the catcher took his eye off the ball. [Fradette] was supposed to run, fall down, hopefully they would throw the ball…try anything. But I think that caused [the catcher] to take his eye off the ball and then he relaxed. The pitcher almost forgot about the other runner because if he threw the ball hard, he would have been out [at home]. But lobbed it [instead].”
Lemke easily scored to tie the game and a hustling Fradette sprinted in from third, beat the tag attempt at the plate, and Post 2 came-from-behind to win it, 6-5.
“We hadn’t had a walk-off win since 2015” at Muzzy said LaPenta. “That year, we lost in the finals of the [Northeast] Regional. I think we had four walk-offs wins before the playoffs. Those were huge for chemistry. So this win could go a long way for our team chemistry. It’s not over till it’s over.”
And it was an important bounce back win for the program after dropping two consecutive one-run games.
The formula for winning Zone 1 is still obtainable for the Post 2 squad.
“We’ve lost three games. We lost two in the bottom of the seventh [on the road] and we lost to [Southington] in the eighth inning,” said LaPenta. “It’s not like we’re not in the games. We just need to finish. Our goal is to win two-out-of-three [against each Zone 1 team]. The games we lost have been to individual teams so we can still win our two-out-three series. If we do that, we can win the zone.”
NOTES…Lahey won the game off a two-hit effort, striking out six and not allowing a hit to get out of the infield…Fradette went two-of-four in the game, while Jake Violette went two-of-three with a double and as run scored…Lemke had an infield hit and garnered two RBI.