By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Greeners of the Tri-State Baseball league have been seemingly snake-bitten all season long.
Absorbing a handful of tough one-run and close game losses, the Greeners battled Tri-Town in another such battle – falling 5-2 to the Trojans at Bristol Central High School on Wednesday, July 5.
Bristol (2-12) absorbed a tough 4-0 start, chopping the deficit to two, before the more experienced squad added an insurance run late to close out the deal.
“We did (battle back),” said Greeners veteran Tyler Bush. “I think we have some young talent on this team and I think we’re really coming into our own, finding our team’s identity. That’s really a big part of the Greeners and the future. It’s really finding our identity with these young guys [and] hopefully adding some veterans to show them the way.”
Veteran Bobby Chatfield (3 IP, no hits) earned the win for Tri-Town, keeping the Bristol outfit off-balanced at the plate while the Greeners’ Jerry LaPenta kept his composure over five innings of work after a rough start.
“Jerry has been a workhorse for us,” said Bush. “I think I’ve been to maybe five games this year and I think he’s pitched every single one of them. He’s an absolute workhorse for us. He’s doing a heck of a job.”
LaPenta faced an aggressive Trojan line-up that all made an appearance at the plate in what turned into a four-run first inning.
It took just one pitch for Tri-Town to get on the board as Connor Murray slammed a home run over the left field fence to make it a 1-0 contest.
Later in the frame, an error scored the second run while a wild pitch plated Danny McCarthy to make it a 3-0 game.
Finally, an RBI single to right from Joe Bunnell pushed the deficit out to 4-0 just a half inning into things.
The Greeners opened its portion of the contest by hitting the ball hard; but after a 1-2-3 inning, Tri-Town was back at it from the plate.
LaPenta settled down nicely in the second, picking up three quick outs as Bristol was looking to get a run to make it a game.
But the Tri-Town defense held and going into the top of the third, it remained a 4-0 game.
Sam Shurberg earned a two-out walk to snap LaPenta’s streak of six consecutive retired batters in the fourth frame but when Osolin grounded out, it was still a 4-0 score in the Trojans favor.
Tyler Cyr led off with a walk in the bottom of the third but was stranded on second as the Tri-Town managed to keep its four run advantage.
LaPenta continued to pile up the strikeouts in the fourth frame – retiring 9 of 10 – as the Greeners still were looking for a run.
In the bottom of the fourth, Bristol put multiple runners on base and finally stuck a number on the scoreboard.
With one gone, A.J. Lorenzetti reached base via error, while Finn and Tyler Bush (2-for-3, double) each singled on to load things up – putting the tying run at home plate.
Joe Klimzcak then slapped a ball past shortstop, scoring two, to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.
Cyr grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out and when Tyler Ropp made the final putout, Bristol was back in it and trailing by just two runs.
In the fifth, Steve Price (3-of-4, two doubles) dropped a loud one-out double to center and Danny McCarthy slipped in a base hit to short left to start a rally for Tri-Town.
Off a grounder to LaPenta on the mound, he got the out at second base but the ball was thrown away to first – scoring Price – as the game became a 5-2 affair.
Shurberg then delivered a single down the left field line and with Osolin up, runners were on first and second.
But one last fly-out put Bristol back at the plate, down by three midway through the fifth tilt.
Bristol did not tally a hit in the fifth and going into the sixth, Tyler Cyr was called to the mound to replace LaPenta.
Cyr easily retired the side in the top of the sixth and Bush, with two down, jammed a double to deep center and the tying runner was in the on-deck circle for Bristol.
But Klimzcak struck out and the three-run cushion for Tri-Town was maintained.
In the top of the seventh, Price drilled another double to center as a runner was on for Tri-Town once again.
McCarthy then walked to get on base as the visitors were threatening to put another run on the scoreboard.
And when Shurberg earned a base on balls for the second time in the game, the Trojans had the bases juiced once again.
But off one final Osolin fly-out, Bristol entered the bottom of the seventh needing at least three runs to continue the game into extra innings.
However, the Greeners went down in order to close things out as Tri-Town moved to 7-4 overall via the 5-2 win.
And while it was another loss by the Greeners, the squad continued to show fight and a little gumption along the way.
“I actually think it’s encouraging more, especially for the older guy’s standpoint because I think when you get a lot of younger guys, you don’t anticipate, you know, being in every game,” said Bush. “So I think whether you’re winning or losing by a lot, I think it’s really key to be in these close games to really show some grit, especially with our younger guys.”
While the playoffs are a bit out of reach for the Bristol squad this year, the outfit can still play spoiler as the regular season comes to an end.
“The plan is to go on a roll, get some momentum going, pick up one win, and just carry on from there on a game by game basis,” said Bush.
Bristol Greeners 5, Valley Thunder 4 – Thursday, June 29
Against the Valley Thunder, the Greeners grabbed its second win of the campaign, taking a 5-4 victory.
Former Bristol American Legion standout Brad Burney earned his first win of the year, pitching five innings for the Greeners, while Cyr threw the last two frames to close the thing out.
LaPenta and Tony Nicolletti both scooped up two hits apiece for the winning outfit.
The Greeners took a sizable cushion into the last couple innings but then had to hold on for dear life.
In fact, Bristol was in front by a 5-0 push until the sixth when the Valley Thunder went for broke.
The team notched four consecutive runs but could not draw even in the end.
For the Valley Thunder, Matt Meir went the distance, earning the loss.
The win moved the Greeners to 2-11 overall while the Thunder fell to 1-10.
Watertown Blaze 7, Bristol Greeners 0 – Saturday, July 8