WEST HARTFORD – Matching its excellent start from last season, the Bristol Eastern baseball squad moved to a perfect 3-0 as the program defeated Northwest Catholic 2-1 from West Hartford on Thursday, April 11.
And for the contest, the game came down to pitching as Eastern chucker Ethan Ryan made his first start of 2019 and nearly went the distance.
He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing five singles, three walks while striking out six to help Eastern secure the win.
The Lancers did not allow Northwest (0-4) a run until the final inning of play.
Ryan pitched into the seventh, at which time he reached the pitch-count limit.
He left the game with one out after giving up consecutive singles, putting Northwest runners on first and second before reliever Dylan Woodsome came in to close out the contest – earning the save in the process.
On the flip-side, Northwest’s Garett Fusco drew the hard-luck loss.
He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just two hits, walked five and fanned four.
Eastern displayed an excellent defensive effort and did not commit an error in the field.
The Lancers received strong infield play by Anthony Marrotti who made a diving stop during the game that kept Lions’ runners from moving up a base.
Also, Jack Kozikowski – at third base – made an outstanding play on a slow roller to get a runner at first while first baseman James Dauphinee and catcher Carson Sassu also brought excellent defense to the game.
Hickey also made a strong play in center, making an outstanding catch on a liner to the outfield.
He had to extend to catch the ball as he raced back with the ball almost going over his head.
Matt D’Amato, who broke a finger in the New Britain game, was replaced in the line-up by sophomore Andrew Lozier – playing very well in the field.
Although he did not get a hit, Lozier put the ball in play all three times at the plate.
The Lions had chances early in the contest but could not cash in a run.
Northwest threatened in the third, loading the bases with no outs on singles by Drew Windorff and Evan Clark and a base-on-balls to Branden Waitt.
However, Ryan regrouped and retired the next three batters to end the threat.
Off a short fly ball and two strikeouts, Ryan and company escaped a huge jam.
But the game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when the Lancers finally got on the scoreboard.
Eastern’s Ian Latko singled to left to start the fifth, which was the Lancers first hit of the showdown.
Devan Jacques then sacrificed him to second and Jacobi Bouchard followed up with a walk to put runners on first and second.
Fusco then generated a strikeout before Sassu lined a single to left-centerfield to score Latko, giving Eastern a 1-0 lead.
And then in the Lancers’ seventh, the squad scored an unearned run to seize a 2-0 edge.
With one out in the inning, Fusco walked Bouchard but then got the second out on a line-out to right.
Fusco later gave up a walk to Sassu that put runners on first and second with two outs.
Northwest reliever Drew Windorff then came in but a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position.
Bouchard eventually scored when Kozikowski reached on an infield error – making it a 2-0 contest.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ryan got the first out and then gave up singles to Ben Manzi and Jimmy Sabia.
By that time of the showdown, Ryan was at his limit for pitches and Woodsome came on in relief in what turned into a save situation.
Woodsome struck out the first batter but gave up a run scoring single to Clark and quickly, it was a 2-1 contest with the Lions in the hunt.
But Woodsome ended the affair with one final strikeout as Eastern came away with a one-run victory.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.