MERIDEN – Off the momentum of victories over rival Bristol Eastern and Enfield the previous week, the Bristol Central baseball squad was forced to play four straight games from Monday, May 6 through Thursday, May 9.
And quickly, any good fortune Central was experiencing was crushed as the Rams traveled to Platt on Wednesday, May 8 and was mercy ruled, 10-0 from Ceppa Field in Meriden.
Five errors in the field by Central (6-8) gave the Panthers (7-7) extra outs with each seemingly leading to additional men on the bases, another at-bat, or a run scored by the home team.
“The key is [Platt] took advantage of every little mistake,” said Central coach Bunty Ray. “That’s what good teams do. They’re a good offensive team. They’re one-through-six [in the batting order] hit the ball very well. So, you’ve got to play flawless. We did that the other night against Berlin too [in a 5-1 loss]. We made an error and it cost us a couple runs.”
“We’re out of sorts in the infield a little bit right now and I think there’s some balls in the outfield that we should be getting to also.”
Platt chucker Joe Salafia threw a strong five innings to earn the victory.
He tallied four critical strikeouts and did not allow any free passes in the showdown.
“Their guy out on the mound had some good presence,” said Ray of Salafia. “When something went wrong, he picked them up with a big strikeout or a big pitch. We’re just not doing that right now.”
After Central went down in order to open the showdown, Platt put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the first frame.
Peyton Thiel reached base via error and when Cameron Germe drilled a single to right, there were two runners on.
But a 6-4 fielder’s choice ended the excitement as the Rams were quickly batting in the second inning.
With two gone, Gavin Greger hit a pop-up to third base that was dropped to get onboard but Ryan Rodriguez grounded out to end Central’s ups in the scoreless affair.
The bottom of the second proved disastrous as two runners reached base via error and when Ricky D’Aniello was retired via 4-3 fielder’s choice, men were on second and third, in scoring position, with two out.
Andrew McCarthy scored on a passed ball and when EJ Dudley unloaded a triple to deep centerfield, Salafia scooted home from third to make it a 2-0 game.
Finally, Joe Baker’s RBI single to center plated Dudley as the Panthers led 3-0 through two innings.
Central put something together in the top of the third when Nick Ruffino (1-for-2) dropped a single by the third basemen but was retired on Austin Brown’s grounder.
And when Evan Bouchard (2-for-3) hit a single up the middle, two were on again and the tying runner was in the batter’s box.
Jake Santiago finally flew out to center, ending the threat, as Platt continued to lead by three.
Platt added a run in the third but it could have been worse.
Germe and Aaron Nieves were each hit by a pitch and the lead runner scored off a double to the gap in right-centerfield by Andrew McCarthy to make it 4-0.
But Bouchard made a slick play off a Salafia grounder as the shortstop made a perfect throw home to Santiago – tagging Nieves out at the dish – as the fielder’s choice kept it a 4-0 affair through three.
Jaylen Dias reached base on an error in the fourth but did not advance home while Central pitcher Kyle Lauretti picked up two Ks, retiring the line-up in order during the bottom of the tilt for the first time that night, and the Rams entered the fifth frame down only four runs.
“He made some big pitches,” said Ray of Lauretti. “He’s got a long way to go in terms of how to pitch but you saw some saw potential of what he could be. [But] that’s all our pitchers. I’m throwing out a lot of first year varsity guys right now that are just not pitching consistently. They’re not getting guys out when they have them up in the count and even when they have them up in the count, we’re getting behind.”
Every mistake is costing us.”
Central put something together with two gone in the fifth as Brown laid down a sweet bunt in front of the pitcher that went for a base hit while Bouchard singled in his second consecutive at-bat to put two on.
But Santiago looked at three strike three as Platt got out of the field in a hurry with its shutout still intact.
Platt’s Jack Clancy took one yard with one away in the fifth as his home run ball cleared the left field fence with Platt’s lead upped to 5-0.
Nieves was then plunked by a ball for the second time in the game and Platt went on to score three additional runs.
An RBI single from Ricky D’Aniello plated a run while a wild pitch scored Salafia, making it a 7-0 contest.
Platt added another run when a hot-shot to right was dropped and when D’Aniello scored, the Panthers held an 8-0 cushion.
Central’s Mike Lorenzetti then came in to throw for the Rams and off a single by Baker and a walk to Thiel, Germe ended the showdown with a single down the third baseline as two runners came around to score – making it 10-0 and ending the contest via the mercy rule.
“It’s been very difficult, not to make excuses for them,” said Ray. “We haven’t gotten outside much to get some practice in [because of the weather and wet field conditions]. We’re just playing and right now, we’re just playing in a funk. We haven’t been able to stop the cycle. We played real well last week, we grabbed a couple wins and I felt like we were headed in a great direction. And all of a sudden, we got stuck indoors again, stuck on the turf practicing and we just hit a bad three games.”
“And unfortunately, in high school baseball, you hit a bad three games, it adds up.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.