From worst to first: Bristol Blues overcame a slow start to lead the FCBL

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

From a 5-10 start to playing in the FCBL championship series, the Bristol Blues had a whirlwind 2019 season.

Bristol finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 33-26. The Blues started out 5-10, but went 26-13 to finish the regular season tied for the league’s top spot with a record of 31-23.

The Brockton Rox were the top seed over the Blues in the FCBL playoffs because of a head-to-head tiebreaker. Bristol lost the first game of an FCBL semifinal series against the North Shore Navigators, but rallied to win the next two games to take the series. The Blues were swept by the Worcester Bravehearts in two games.

When it came to the regular season, Bristol was first in the FCBL in many statistical categories. The Blues offense led the league in batting average (. 278), on-base percentage (. 388), runs scored (345), and stolen bases (114). In addition, the locals tied for first place in hits (501).

The Blues were just as dominant defensively. Bristol finished first in the FCBL for hits allowed (419), batting average (. 236), slugging percentage (. 334), shutouts (3), fielding percentage (. 961), and errors (75).

For pitching and defense, it’s about being the team that did or allowed the least amount of something, be it hits, errors and so on. There were statistics where Bristol was first that weren’t good. The Blues hit a league-worst 19 home runs and were caught stealing a league-most 38 times. They also threw a league-high 79 wild pitches.

Blues players also set the standard as individuals, leading the league in eight individual categories. Austin White led the league in runs scored (56), triples (6), and walks (59). Christian Beal was struck by pitches 18 times, more than anybody else in the FCBL. Brandon Miller led the league in steals (28).

On the mound, Blues players excelled. Tommy Hughes pitched more games (23) than any other pitcher in the league. James Judenis was one of two players to record complete games, and Mark Faello scored more wins (6) than any other pitcher in the FCBL.

In fact, Bristol had seven players named to the FCBL’s two all-star teams. Will Nowak, Mark Faello, Zeke Diamond and Brandon Miller played for the Electrics while Dominic Niman, Buddy Dewaine and Austin White suited up for the Hillies. Dewaine was the lone season award winner. He was named FCBL Defensive Player of the Year.

Bristol drew 25,463 fans to Muzzy Field in 26 games for an average of 979. The Blues ranked sixth out of seven teams in total attendance and average attendance per game. Bristol drew 27,736 fans in 22 games in 2018, which averaged out to 1,261 per game. The Blues drew 30,689 in 24 games in 2017, which averaged out to 1,279 per game.

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