By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Bristol Blues won three of their first four games last week and were a season-high four games above .500 (16-12) entering the weekend.
The good start was highlighted by back-to-back games where Bristol won in its final at bat. The first was a 5-4 comeback victory over the North Shore Navigators on July 3 at Muzzy Field.
“They didn’t give up on the game when we got behind early, they just stayed the course. We strung some hits together in the eighth, and everything just kind of worked itself out,” manager Ronnie Palmer said.
On July 4, the Blues again thrilled the home crowd with an 8-7, 10-inning walk-off win over the Brockton Rox. The good vibes left as quickly as they came. Bristol dropped its last three games of the week, at and fell to 16-15 on the season. Here’s what happened last week:
Blues 8, Silver Knights 2
JULY 1—Matt Shane (Colchester) notched his first win of the season with five innings of one-run ball against Nashua.
Shane (1-0) gave up five hits, struck out five, walked one and hit one. Southington native Wes Lahey came on for two innings of relief and yielded one hit to go along with two strikeouts and two walks.
Brandon Miller (Easton, Penn.) went 2-for-4 with a walk, three stolen bases, two runs scored and an RBI. Austin White (Glastonbury) was 2-for-5 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Dylan Reynolds (Hamden) and Will Reiner (Madison) each had a double, run scored and RBI. JT Mounce (Cypress, Texas) drew a walk and drove in two runs.
Suns 8, Blues 0
JULY 2—John Clayton tossed eight innings of five-hit ball (six strikeouts, one walk) against Bristol in the win for Pittsfield in Massachusetts.
Zeke Diamond (Sandy Springs, Ga.) was 3-for-3 with a double to lead the Blues. Miller also had two hits for the Blues.
Blues 5, Navigators 4
JULY 3—Bristol scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to stun North Shore.
The Blues trailed 3-0 after a half inning, 4-0 after three and half innings. Bristol had scored just a run on eight hits through the first seven innings, but erupted for four runs on four hits in the eighth.
Parker Upton (Grand Island, Neb.) led off the eighth with a single, then Miller walked. An RBI single by Reynolds cut the deficit to 4-2. Buddy Dewaine (Uncasville) was intentionally walked to load the bases, but a passed ball with Jordan Laske (Wethersfield) at the plate scored Miller and cut the deficit to 4-3. Laske’s RBI single scored Reynolds and tied the game, 4-4. An RBI single from Diamond scored Dewaine for a 5-4 Bristol lead.
Upton had three hits in the game, including a double, while Dewaine, Reynolds and Diamond added two hits apiece.
Will Nowak (South Windsor) worked around a two-out walk to pick up his seventh save of the season. What shouldn’t be lost in the comeback is the effort put in by starter Ryan Lauk (Mullica Hill, N.J.), who picked up a no-decision. Lauk gave up two home runs and three runs in the first inning, then another run scored in the third. No more runs scored in Lauk’s final four innings.
“He gave up three runs early, but his demeanor didn’t change. He still went out, he competed and just kept going about things,” Palmer said.
Christian Seelhorst (Glenshaw, Penn.) worked around two hit batters in the eighth to claim the win. Palmer would love to get six innings from his starters, but Lauk went one further. That meant just one inning had to be accounted for before Nowak entered in the ninth.
“We think Will’s the best closer in the league, bar none,” Palmer said.
Blues 8, Rox 7
JULY 4—Bristol provided late-game fireworks for the second straight game, this time in the bottom of the 10th inning. John Orzechowski (Monroe) led off with a walk and later scored on a wild pitch with Miller at the plate to win the game.
Diamond went 4-for-5 with a run scored while Upton added three hits, including a home run, to go with two runs scored and two RBI. Dewaine had two hits and a run scored while Miller homered and drove in three runs. White singled, drew three walks, stole three bases and scored two runs. Reiner (sacrifice fly) and Orzechowski each drove in a run.
Nowak (1-1) picked up a win in relief. He threw two innings, gave up one hit and struck out five. Nowak was part of a trio of strong relief efforts. Spencer Fox (Manchester) struck out six in two innings while Lahey gave up a single hit in one scoreless inning.
Bravehearts 16, Blues 2
JULY 5—Worcester unleashed a 22-hit attack on Bristol and blew the game open with 11 runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings combined.
James Judenis (1-1) was the losing pitcher. Tyler Boisvert (Oxford) and Andrew Marrero (New Haven) each made their first pitching appearances for the Blues. Brogan Searle-Belanger (Saco, Maine) and Sam Loda (East Haven) each had two hits. White and Dewaine had one hit apiece, and Miller added a sacrifice fly and RBI.
Suns win HR derby
JULY 6—With the game tied 4-4 after 10 innings, a home run derby was held and Pittsfield came out on top of Bristol, seven homers to six.
Miller and Dewaine each had two hits while Beal added a hit. Diamond drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Cam Van Hoorebeke (West Chester, Penn.) started for Bristol and picked up a no-decision. He pitched six innings and struck out nine. Tommy Hughes (Newington) fanned five in two innings of relief.
Navigators 13, Blues 10
JULY 7—North Shore won a slugfest against Bristol in a game that featured 25 hits.
White went 3-for-4 with a triple, two walks, three stolen bases, two runs scored and three RBI. White upped his stolen base total to 20 for the season. Dewaine was 3-for-5 with a double, stolen base, run scored and an RBI while Miller homered, singled, scored a run and drove in three runs. Reynolds singled twice, walked and scored a run. Christian Beal (Flossmoor, Ill.) and Danny Roth (West Hartford) each added a double.
Garrett Coe (Lakeside) made his first pitching appearance for Bristol.
Up next: The Blues are scheduled for six games in seven days. Bristol began the week on the road against Nashua on Monday and Westfield on Tuesday. The Blues were slated to play at home against Westfield on Thursday. Bristol is at North Shore on Friday at 7 p.m., then they play at Pittsfield on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Blues conclude the week at North Shore on Sunday at 5 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com