By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When the Bristol Central baseball starting line-up was announced for all to hear at Muzzy Field on Wednesday, May 9, the fourth player mentioned on the P.A. got the loudest ovation of the evening as shortstop Noah Plantamuro, after missing the first 13 games of the year due to illness, was back on the field, ready to roll against Platt.
And Plantumuro would have put Derek Jeter and Ozzie Smith to shame that night as he made big play after big play on defense – looking as good as ever in Central’s 1-0 win over Platt.
“It feels amazing, being with my boys out on the field again,” said Plantamuro after the game. “You get a different appreciation for the game when you’re out [for your] senior year. You come back and you can’t do anything but move forward.”
Central played errorless ball that night against the Panthers and Plantamuro chased down everything in his path.
But was it good to have Plantamuro back?
“Understatement,” said Central coach Bunty Ray with a grin. “He walked into the office [after getting cleared to play] and I never seen a kid smile like that and that’s why I want to show up for kids and want to watch them play.”
Ray was buying as much time as he could waiting for the stricken Plantamuro to come back, putting Evan Bouchard at shortstop and to his credit, the youngster played well at the position.
But with the old hand back at shortstop, it was Central putting a huge piece of its identity back on the field.
And Plantamuro was smooth out of the gate, snaring a blast off the bat of Platt’s Carson Coon, zipping up the ball and made a one-hopper to first to end a first inning threat.
For Plantamuro, it was back to work and back to business.
“You’ve got to play relaxed, have some fun” said Plantamuro. “I only have a couple games left but I’m going to make the most of it.”
Overall, Plantamuro had seven assists and made all the big defensive plays – helping Platt strand seven runners on the evening.
“It was great having him” back said Ray. “The energy he plays with…he had a ton of putouts, double plays, balls in the hole, and he made them look easy.”
Ray was hoping his squad would hang around .500 while Plantamuro was out and Central went 5-8 before getting the veteran back.
Now at 6-9, winning two additional games gets Central to the state tournament pay window and Plantamuro knows that’s the focus right now.
“That’s the first goal,” said Plantamuro. “We’ve got nothing else but looking to the state tournament. We’ve got to get that first [and] we’ll look at other things after we get to the state tournament.”