By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Never count the Bristol American Legion Junior Legion team out.
The defending Northeast Regional Tournament champions looked listless offensively over the first five innings of its game against Wolcott in a Zone 1 showdown on Monday, June 17.
Down 7-2, Post 2 tied the game up over the next two innings, forced an extra frame and in the end, a walk-off, bases loaded RBI by Owen Davis propelled Bristol to an 8-7 win in front of a lively crowd from Muzzy Field in Bristol.
It was the third straight walk-off Post 2 has participated in but this time around, it was Bristol coming away with the win after two one-run losses at West Hartford on Saturday, June 15.
“You’ve got to believe, that’s what it’s all about,” said Bristol left fielder Mike Lorenzetti. “We have a great team, great guys on our team. We had our great senior team cheering us on, the energy was going. Everything just worked out.”
Bristol nabbed 12 hits in the game with Roberto Cruz leading the charge with a 3-of-5 performance that included two runs and an RBI.
Joseph Maglio III (one hit, 4 Ks, 2.0 IP) got the win for Post 2 in relief.
But Wolcott had quite a first inning to open things up.
Three consecutive singles to start the game led to a Wolcott run – off an RBI single from Zack Gorman – and with the bases loaded, an RBI tally up the middle by Chase Belise made it a 2-0 game.
Post 2 wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam to end the first as the home team escaped, down just two runs.
But Bristol had a response.
With one gone, Joe Crowley (3-for-5, run) smoked a single to right, stole second and moved to third base on a one-hopper to center by Lorenzetti (2-for-5, run).
A balk allowed Crowley to score to make it a 2-1 game and Lorenzetti moved to third on a ground-out by Sean O’Neil.
And Lorenzetti scored when Cruz singled up the middle as the showdown was all tied up at 2-2 going into the second frame.
In the Bristol second, Zachary Vanessa was hit-by-pitch with two outs but Andrew Beaucar flew out to center to end the inning with the squads still tied up at 2-2.
In the top of the third inning, Wolcott went for four runs.
With the bases loaded for Dan Lockman, he dropped in a grounder to third base. But the fielder did not have a play, scoring Kyle Hensel, as Wolcott reassumed the lead in the contest at 3-2 with the bases still juiced.
Ethan Brissette was plated via an RBI walk. When Mike Angurio slapped an RBI flare into center and Northrop added a second run-scoring single via left field, Wolcott increased its edge to 6-2.
Post 2 attempted a two-out rally in the bottom of the third when O’Neil reached on an error and Cruz singled for the second straight at-bat as the tying run was in the on-deck circle.
But Hensel fanned Kyle Lauretti to end the third with Wolcott still ahead by four runs.
A couple infield hits and a balk led to a run for Wolcott in the fourth as the visitors quickly scooped up a 7-2 push.
But that’s when the scoring ended for the visitors.
Davis led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk but did not score while a base-on-balls to Northrop in the fifth put a runner on for Wolcott.
An error led to Zack Gorman getting on base for the visitors, eventually loading the bases with one out.
But a force-out at the plate and a strikeout from relief pitcher Matt Beaucar got Bristol back at the plate with the locals trailing by five runs.
Small-ball came into play for Post 2 as Crowley bunted his way onto first base but a pop-up led to a double play, snuffing out the drive.
However, Bristol got one back in the sixth.
Cruz made it 3-for-3 for Bristol with a Texas Leaguer to short right, then stealing second and reached third when the original pickoff attempt to first went into right field.
And Cruz scored on a wild pitch as Bristol closed the deficit to 7-3.
Davis then reached on an error off an errant throw while Vanessa eked out a base hit towards shortstop and – again – the tying run was standing on-deck.
Andrew Beaucar ended up flying out to center to end the sixth with Wolcott still ahead by a four-run cushion.
Maglio III mopped up in the seventh – striking out the side – but the home team had to make up four runs to keep the Zone 1 contest going.
And that’s exactly what Post 2 did.
Crowley started it off by zipping a single up the middle and the rally was on.
With one retired, O’Neil slapped a single by the third basemen and when
Cruz hit a grounder to third, the throw to second couldn’t get the speedy O’Neil and quickly, the bases were loaded and the tying run was at the dish with one out.
Evan Bouchard came into pinch hit and walked Crowley home as Bristol was down by only three, 7-4.
Davis then added an RBI groundout and with runners on second and third, it was a 7-5 game.
On a full count to Kaiden Dionne, he jammed single to left field – clearing the bases – and when Cruz and Bouchard tagged the plate, it was a brand new game at 7-7.
Vanasse then singled by the second baseman and with runners on first and second, Wolcott’s Devan Feegan was tasked to stop the bleeding and eventually prevented Bristol from generating the game-winning hit.
And off the power of a four-run seventh, the baseball game continued into the eighth inning with both squads tied up at 7-7.
Feegan out-ran an infield hit to second base with one outing the eighth, breaking a streak of four consecutive strikeouts by Maglio III.
But a pop-up and groundout ended Wolcott’s at-bats and Bristol was looking to score one run to win the contest in the bottom of the eighth.
And Lorenzetti started the tilt off with the only extra-base hit of the game, a blazing double to deep center, and Post 2 was in business to close it out.
“That whole at-bat, my energy was pumping the whole time,” said Lorenzetti. “[Feegan] put it in the wheelhouse and I just took it opposite field.”
A wild pitch advanced Lorenzetti to third while O’Neil walked to put two on.
A fielder’s choice got Lorenzetti at the plate, Cruz was safe at first while Bouchard was plunked by a ball to load the bases up again.
And Davis walked home the winning run on four straight balls as Bristol came from five runs down to rack up an 8-7 win over Wolcott – moving to 2-4 on the year.
“It’s so much better,” said Lorenzetti of Bristol finally winning a walk-off. “I can’t lie, we had a doubleheader [the previous] Saturday but I was sweating way more this game. It was crazy. It feels good though.”