2018 Junior Legion Baseball Connecticut Sectional Tournament – North Regional Final
BRISTOL 3, WEST HARTFORD 0 (Wednesday, Aug. 1)
from Rotary Field, South Windsor
West Hartford 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
Bristol 200 001 X – 3 5 1
WP – Anthony Marrotti (Bristol)
LP – William Fox (West Hartford)
Records: Bristol 25-5 overall
By MICHAEL LETENDRE
SOUTH WINDSOR – The Zone 1 showdowns between the Bristol and West Hartford Junior Legion baseball squads this past summer usually ended up going in favor of Post 2 this year.
Bristol took three of four regular season showdowns so why would a state tournament battle be any different?
It wasn’t as fundamental baseball ruled the day for Bristol as it posted a 3-0 victory from Rotary Field in South Windsor in the North Regional final on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
“That’s what we practice all year,” said Bristol coach Bill Mason. “We worked on fundamentals the whole way. We bunt, we run, we steal and we have tremendous pitching.”
And the win meant a date in the state championship game, its first since 2011 when Bristol won it all and moved on the New Bedford, Mass. for the Northeast Regional.
Against West Hartford, Post 2 turned to Anthony Marrotti on the mound and he didn’t allow West Hartford any kind of offensive flow.
He threw strikes, made his defense work, and once the Bristol offense put runs on the scoreboard, Marrotti was throwing with confidence.
“Tremendous,” said Mason of Marrotti on the mound. “It was a big bounce back day for Anthony. It was a tough day the other day and he bounced right back today.”
The pitcher did not allow an extra base hit while walking just two over a complete game effort.
Bristol put the pressure on early as the squad racked up two runs off four hits in the bottom of the first inning to salt the game away.
Post 2 used a little squeeze and a base hit to score its runs and by the start of the second frame, it was already a 2-0 contest.
“Most of the year, we’ve been scoring in the first inning,” said Mason. “We try to roll in the first inning and keep going.”
Marrotti drove in the first run for Bristol as his infield single made it a 1-0 game.
“I knew I was going to come up big,” said Marrotti. “I’m a good player in big games. I knew the team was going to play together, play good on defense. Everybody did their part and we did what we needed to do and we came out with the win.”
Later in the frame, Joe Crowley laid down a little squeeze bunt to net another run as it was a two run game favoring Bristol.
“[It was] way easier just scoring right off the bat. It felt good,” said Marrotti. “I felt like I could pitch to [hitters] and let my fielders make the plays [and] get what I had to do done.”
But Post 2 was challenged in the second inning as the bases were loaded by West Hartford without the benefit of an out.
With one runner on, West Hartford’s Brian Kenna ran out a base hit and when Will Cashman walked, every base was spoken for.
But Marrotti tallied a huge strikeout on Andrew Wendorff and a nifty 6-2-3 double-play — including a put-out at home plate — ended the inning as Bristol continued to lead it by two.
“They battle us every time,” said Mason of West Hartford. “They’re a great team to play against. We have a good time with them [and] all our games have been competitive.”
Bristol’s Evan Bouchard was plunked by a pitch in the second inning and he advanced a base via steal to get into scoring position.
But a fly out from Tyler Donohue ended the tilt with Bristol still leading by a 2-0 push.
In the third, Wes Pierce – the former Forestville Little League star – managed to draw a walk for West Hartford but was thrown out trying to steal a base.
In the bottom of the stanza, Post 2 was aggressive but did not score.
Dillon Hudson walked but was chopped down trying to steal second.
From there, Crowley drilled a two-out single, Jack Kozikowski walked and a double steal put both runners into scoring position.
But a strikeout by William Fox did-in the inning with West Hartford still trailing by a couple runs.
An error allowed Kenna two bases in the fourth but a ground out extinguished West Hartford chances of scoring.
“Two hits, you don’t score [many] runs off of that,” said Marrotti. “We just played all around good. It was a good day of baseball.”
Bristol’s fourth stanza saw Nick Ruffino drew a one-out walk but that third run was not tallied.
Marrotti was cruising on the mound, retiring seven of eight to get Bristol to the dish in the bottom of the fifth.
And outside of a couple early hits by West Hartford, the contest was going the way so many Bristol games have gone against that squad in the past.
Hudson started the fifth by drawing another walk and a groundout by Marrotti put the lead runner into scoring position.
There wouldn’t be any advancement but by the time West Hartford got its ups in the top of the sixth, the program was down to its final six outs of the season.
Pierce walked with one gone in the fifth as West Hartford had the tying runner at the dish.
Marrotti and Emmett Coco then engaged in a bit of a tit-for-tat battle but the batter flew out to left, Dylan Mallinson ended up popping up to first and, after a bit of a collision, Kyle Lauretti ended up with the catch behind first base to close the inning.
Bristol’s sixth saw Andrew Lozier walk on four balls while Lauretti bunted him over to second.
And then Ruffino smashed a grounder right at the first baseman but the ball was bobbled and rolled away from the fielder.
Lozier quickly rounded third base and he simply just kept going – not stopping and sprinting for home plate.
The ball came into the dish but was too high for the catcher to snare as Lozier scored a third and very important insurance run for Post 2.
Donohue was then hit-by-pitch, stole second and quickly, two runners were back in scoring position.
But a groundout closed out the tilt and, going into the final inning, West Hartford was short three runs and needed to score.
And those three runs remained elusive as Bristol went 1-2-3 to close out the game and won its way into the championship game against Stamford.
NOTES…The showdown between Hamden and Stamford – which was scheduled for Aug. 1 – was delayed on consecutive days due to rain.