Baseball: Bristol Blues pare lineup after all-star break

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

In college baseball summer leagues, roster attrition is just part of the job that coaches must deal with. The Bristol Blues of the FCBL are no exception, but they were lucky to get six innings or more out of all three of their starters in last week’s games.

With pitchers being moved around into different spots in the bullpen, those starts were big.

“I think a lot of summer leagues are kind of going through the same thing that we are right now,” coach Ronnie Palmer said. “Maybe the attrition rate is a little higher for us the last couple weeks, but you just deal with it, keep giving guys opportunities, and hope that they will be successful.”

Mark Faello (Plainview, N.Y.) tossed seven innings for Bristol in a 4-2 win over the Worcester Bravehearts on July 19 to open last week’s slate. On July 20, Ryan Lauk (Mullica Hill, N.J.) went for eight innings in a 5-3 victory over the Westfield Starfires. Both wins came at Muzzy Field.

“Him and Ryan have been pretty decent for us all summer,” Palmer said of the efforts put in by Faello and Lauk.

This past Sunday, James Judenis (Wallingford) gave up a single run over the first six innings in what turned out to be a 4-3 loss to the Nashua Silver Knights in New Hampshire. In the three games last week, the bullpen had to throw a total of five innings out of 26. That’s huge, given the league puts limits on how many pitches can be thrown in a day or how many consecutive days a pitcher can work.

College coaches dictate how many innings their pitchers will throw, and Bristol had several arms shut down because of innings limits being met or because of soreness. Palmer said the goals of a summer league are to get a pitcher work, but also make sure his health is the top priority.

With the loss of pitchers like Will Nowak, Dominic Niman, Christian Seelhorst, Southington native Wes Lahey, Arjun Thakar and others, any quality starts the starters give the Blues go a long way.

“That really helps us out on the back side,” Palmer said.

Bristol’s record was 21-19 going into this week’s games. Here’s what happened last week:

Blues 4, Bravehearts 2

JULY 19—Faello was strong in his start, pitching seven innings and picking up the win over Worcester.

Faello gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He lowered his ERA to 1.80 and improved his record to 5-0.

“Mark’s a competitor, and he had good stuff,” Palmer said.

Tommy Hughes (Newington) and Spencer Fox (Manchester) each threw a scoreless inning behind Faello, with Fox picking up the save.

On offense, Christian Beal (Flossmoor, Ill.) was 2-for-3 with a double, hit by pitch, stolen base, run scored and RBI. Brandon Miller (Easton, Penn.) homered, walked, scored a run and drove in another. Zeke Diamond (Sandy Springs, Ga.) singled and drove in a run while Austin White (Glastonbury) walked, stole a base and scored a run. Sam Loda (East Haven) also had a hit for Bristol.

Blues 5, Starfires 3

JULY 20—Lauk worked his way through eight innings in the victory over Westfield.

Lauk gave up three runs on six hits and struck out nine on his way to the win, which improved his record to 3-1. He escaped a bases loaded, no-out jam in the top of the seventh inning by getting a fielder’s choice, strikeout and fly out.

“He was awesome tonight, just awesome,” Palmer said.

Andrew Marrero (New Haven) pitched the ninth and picked up the save.

Kyle Maves (Burlington, Ont.) went 2-for-4 with a double, walk, run scored and RBI while Miller was 2-for-4 with a run scored and his 20th stolen base of the season. Noah Budzik (Cromwell) had a sacrifice fly, walk, run scored and RBI while Buddy Dewaine (Uncasville) singled, was hit by a pitch and drove in a run. JT Mounce (Cypress, Texas) went 1-for-4 in his last game as a Blue.

Silver Knights 4, Blues 3

JULY 21—Nashua scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning and two in the eighth to rally for the win at Holman Stadium.

Judenis gave up one unearned run on four hits, struck out four and walked one in his six innings, but wound up with a no-decision. Fox took the loss in relief for Bristol. Miles Michaud (Madison) gave up a run on two hits in one inning of work. It was his first appearance for the Blues.

Diamond homered, drove in two runs, scored a run and was hit by a pitch to lead the Bristol offense. White hit his first homer of the season and added a sacrifice fly to go along with his two RBI.

Notes: Going into this past Sunday’s game, Miller was leading the FCBL with a .358 batting average. Kasey Bass (Sun Prairie, Wisc.) and Beal were first and second in the league in getting hit by the pitch. Bass had been hit 14 times while Beal had been plunked 13 times. White and Miller ranked first and second in stolen bases with 21 and 20. White was also leading the league in walks with 36.

Up next: Bristol was scheduled to host Nashua on Monday, Pittsfield on Tuesday and Nashua again on Wednesday. After an off day Thursday, the Blues are back in action Friday at Westfield at 7 p.m. Bristol is back home for Nashua on Saturday at 7 p.m., followed by the Brockton Rox on Sunday at 6 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com