By MICHAEL LETENDRE
WINDSOR LOCKS – The Bristol American Legion 17U baseball squad is your 2018 Northeast Region 1 champions.
No use trying to sugarcoat it any because Post 2 put on a small-ball clinic against South Kingstown of Rhode Island on Sunday, Aug. 12 – scoring four runs in the second inning without the benefit of a hit – as Bristol won the title behind a 6-1 victory from Memorial Park in Windsor Locks.
“That’s the way we started everything off all year,” said Bristol coach Bill Mason of his team’s small-ball. “And we did the same thing today.”
It was the first championship for the Bristol program and its second ever appearance in the Northeast Regional event.
The game was delayed by two hours after the completion of five innings as rain came pouring down and never let up.
The goal was to simply wait out the rain, attempt to get the field playable again, and get seven innings in.
But since the rain never stopped, the contest was eventually called and Bristol took possession of its first ever Junior American Legion championship trophy.
Pitcher Anthony Marrotti, bouncing back from a tough start the previous day, won the game for Bristol as the only damage done on the chucker was a one run, two hit effort in the fourth frame.
Otherwise, he threw strikes and his defense did the rest.
“Yesterday, we took him out after the first inning. He went 29 pitches in the first inning,” said Mason of Marrotti. “Anthony came back, bounced right back today just like he did back in the playoffs against West Hartford [to win 3-0].”
Both teams couldn’t get anything generated in what was a quiet first inning but in the bottom of the second, the floor fell out on the squad from Rhode Island.
The bases were quickly loaded as Joe Crowley and Jack Kozikowski walked while Marrotti was plunked by a pitch and the bases were loaded.
Bristol then showed why its small ball approach ended up earning Post 2 a Northeast Regional 17U Tournament championship.
Kyle Lauretti started the scoring off by getting hit by a pitch, plating Joe Crowley, and quickly, it was a 1-0 contest.
And then, it was small-ball time with the bases still loaded.
Nick Ruffino then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to the pitcher that easily scored Jack Kozikowski, making it 2-0.
But South Kingstown’s Ben Brutti threw the ball away at first – allowing Marrotti to score as well – and Post 2’s edge grew to three runs.
And then the next at bat, Ruffino broke from first, on his way to stealing second base.
The throw went by the bag, Lauretti scored from third and by the completion of two innings, Bristol’s lead was 4-0 and Post 2 was playing from ahead instead of behind for the first time since beating West Hartford 3-0 in the Connecticut state playoff round.
“We had the lead most of the time during the regular season in our games. We’d usually get a run in the first inning,” said Mason. “And through the playoffs we’ve always been behind, but today we jumped right back on and started rolling. It felt great to up and being able to pitch being up, too. Anthony was more loose that way and was able to get going.”
The top of the third saw Marrotti and company go 1-2-3 and quickly, Bristol was right back at the dish in the bottom of the third.
Crowley smacked a single to right field and when the ball was thrown into first – without the first baseman at the bag – the ball rolled to the fence in front of the Bristol dugout and the runner was off to second.
And then it was small ball again and Rhode Island made another miscue in the field.
Kozikowski bunted right to the pitcher, the play was to first base and on the sacrifice, the ball was chucked away.
Crowley scored on the error, making it 5-0, while Kozikowski made it safely to third base.
From there, Marrotti helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly to right as the RBI tally scored Kozikowski – making it an imposing 6-0 lead for Bristol and the locals were cruising.
“We just keep coming,” said Mason. “We just did it the same way with the small ball again [and] set up the next runs. We’ve done the same thing all year and just kept to the same game plan.”
In the top of the fourth, Kingstown’s Andrew Moshier jammed a double to deep center field with one out to finally get something brewing.
He scored off an Aiden Kiekty single that zipped down the right field line as Kingstown trimmed the deficit to 6-1.
Those were the only two hits in the game Marrotti gave up.
And Lauretti snared a line drive away from Costa at first base to end the inning as Bristol’s five run edge carried into the bottom of the fourth tilt.
Matt D’Amato raced out an infield hit to start the frame while Crowley bunted him over.
But a fielder’s choice got D’Amato at third and Marrotti grounded out as the top of the six saw Bristol still lead 6-1 – nine outs away from the Northeast 17U American Legion baseball tournament championship.
And then the rain came and – because the officials in Windsor Locks wanted to get the game in – a LONG rain delay ensued.
But the showdown was never restarted, Bristol earned the championship, and Post 2 ended one heck of a postseason run with the regional title.
“It’s awesome,” said Mason. “I can’t describe it.”
NOTES…Nick Ruffino earned the tournament’s most outstanding pitcher award and the MVP was Evan Bouchard.
2018 Tournament Location: Windsor Locks, CT – Veterans Memorial Park (Aug. 10th – Aug. 12th)
Bristol, Post 2 – Connecticut State Champ
Dover, Post 8 – New Hampshire State Champ
Hartt Transportation River Jack – Maine State Champ
Franklin, Post 75 – Massachusetts State Champ
South Kingstown, Post 79 – Rhode Island State Chump
Elmwood Sports Auburn, Post 20 – Rhode Island State Runner-Up
Quincy, Post 294 – Massachusetts State Runner-Up
Windsor Locks, Post 36 – Connecticut Host Team
2018 America Legion Baseball – Northeast Region 1 U17 Tournament – Championship game – Sunday, Aug. 12
BRISTOL 6, SOUTH KINGSTOWN (Rhode Island) 1 (5)
from Memorial Park, Windsor Locks
Rhode Island 000 10 – 1
Bristol 042 00 – 6
WP – Anthony Marrotti (Bristol)
LP – Ben Brutti (Rhode Island)
Records: Bristol 3-0 tournament; Kingstown 2-1
Tournament Results (Single elimination tournament)
Friday, Aug. 10
Game 1 – Kingstown (RI) 6, Quincy (MA) 5
Game 2 – Bristol (CT) 6, Cranston (RI) 5 – 8 innings
Game 3 – Franklin (MA) 3, Hampden (MA) 0
Game 4 – Dover (NH) 7, Windsor Locks (CT) 1
Saturday, Aug. 11
Game 5 – Hampden (MA) 10, Quincy (MA) 8
Game 6 – Cranston (RI) 12, Windsor Locks (CT) 10
Game 7 – Kingstown (RI) 6, Franklin (MA) 1
Game 8 – Bristol (CT) 4, Dover (NH) 3
Sunday, Aug. 12
Game 9 – Dover (NH) 5, Franklin (MA) 1
Game 10 – Bristol (CT) 6, Kingstown (RI) 1 – 5 innings
*For the first time in team history, Bristol – Post 2 – won the Northeast Region 1 U17 Tournament Championship.
Role Call of Champions – Bristol American Legion 17U Baseball
Name Position School
Evan Bouchard 2B/SS
Joseph Crowley CF/LF St. Paul Catholic
Matt D’Amato 2B/SS Bristol Eastern
Owen Davis C/2B
St. Paul Catholic
Tyler Donohue SS/P
Dillon Hudson SS/CF Bristol Central
Jack Kozikowski 2B/3B/P Bristol Eastern
Kyle Lauretti 1B/P Bristol Central
Spencer Lindroth 3B/P Bristol Central
Andrew Lozier 2B/SS/P Bristol Eastern
Joseph Maglio C/P Bristol Central
Anthony Marrotti SS/2B Bristol Eastern
Derek Mason OF/3B
Trevor Mays P/3B
Sean O’Neil IF/OF/UT
Nick Ruffino SS/2B Bristol Central
Carson Sassu OF/C/P Bristol Eastern
Dylan Woodsome CF/SS Bristol Eastern
Head Coach: Bill Mason
Assisitant Coach: Greg Lozier & Chris Davis
GM: Paul LaFleur
Manager: Dave Greenleaf
Scorer: Tad Doyle
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.