By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Central faced some adversity in its CCC South challenge against Platt on Monday, April 22.
Sure, the 11-2 final score from Muzzy Field didn’t look like the Rams had any kind of difficulties against the Panthers but the visitors put up some resistance against the Rams none-the-less.
However, Central’s hitting was on target from inning one and that offense was on full display against a very good pitcher in the form of Toby Hollman, now 2-2 after the loss.
The hit patrol was on duty for Central the entire game and even the bench got into it as well.
Central zipped up 14 hits and those came in a variety of fashions.
From Mitch Guilmette, to Kyle Pileski, to Blandino, to Tony Nicolette, everyone was a hitter for the Rams.
“You know, we came out in the first inning and I thought we established what we wanted to do (offensively) which is stay short, don’t try to do too much and hit the ball to all fields and you saw our success,” said Central coach Bunty Ray. “That’s all we’re going to work over the next couple days because of the week that we play.”
“We’re playing teams that are going to throw off-speed pitches against us.”
Ronny St. Dennis, Jake Martel, Joey DeFillippi and Andrew Laviero all stroked doubles in the showdown while Jimmy Godbout drilled a triple to deep centerfield and the shot was the loudest (and longest) hit of the day.
But DeFillippi’s critical two-out double got the home team back the momentum in the game and Central was firmly back in control off Platt’s little scoring burst.
“I thought Joey DeFillippi’s hit was big,” said Ray. “Platt gets us in a pop-up and then all of a sudden, Joey comes out with that two-out hit out of the nine-hole and scores two runs on a pretty good hit to the opposite field. I thought that’s what changed the momentum of the game.”
Hollman went five innings, allowing 12 hits, while giving up five earned runs.
And then offensively, Platt had the pleasure in dealing with pitcher Matt Blandino.
For the Panthers, it wasn’t a fun outing as the best pitcher in the state was up to his old tricks again.
Blandino moved to 4-0 on the year in the win, allowing just four hits in another dominating display.
He racked up 12 strikeouts and did not yield a walk in six strong innings.
“He’s our ace and that’s what’s going to happen,” said Ray of Blandino. “When he goes out there, he’s going to do his job.”
Hollman drilled a big single to score a couple runs in the game while Kyle Pelcher drilled a two-base hit but outside of two additional hits, the offense struggled to string together anything on the afternoon.
Central posted three quick runs to open the first inning and Platt played from behind the entire way.
But credit to Hollman, he stayed tough as the game remained a 3-0 contest going into the fourth frame.
Hollman came through with a two-run single in the fourth inning as suddenly, Platt trailed by only one at 3-2.
Central, however, struck right for those two fourth inning runs as the Rams reclaimed their three edge lead at 5-2.
“We’ve done it all year,” said Central of responding to runs. “Every time someone scores on us in the middle innings and starts to get up, we seem to answer. I told guys in the outfield after the game it would be nice to continue momentum. It seems like we hit a little lull and then when (the opponent) does something, it wakes us up.”
Platt made it interesting in the fifth as the Panthers loaded the bases up without the benefit of a single hit.
With one out, Jon Doyon reached base via error and off Pelcher getting plunked by a pitch from Blandino, two runners were on.
Brandon Valentin fell via strikeout but off an apparent catcher’s interference play, Platt had the go ahead run at the plate and the bases were juiced.
“Defensively, I was a little letdown in some of the plays but that’s to be expected,” said Ray. “If we want to go anywhere in the state tournament, we need to make sure we make all the routine plays and a few you’re not supposed to. It’s a cliché that you’re only supposed to make the routine plays you’re supposed to make and some you’re not supposed to as well. We still have to keep working.”
Dimitri O’Donnell struck out as the fifth inning threat was quickly extinguished and Central’s three-run lead remained intact.
Central added insurance runs in the bottom of the tilt as Martel roped in a two-RBI single to left and Laviero came through with a sacrifice fly to post the Rams to an 8-2 push after five frames.
Platt didn’t have any further luck against Blandino in the sixth as Central’s offense went back on the attack.
Central went to its bench in the sixth stanza and the move paid off.
With two on and one out, Godbout drilled his shot to center as Shawn Caron and Blandino crossed the plate to make it a 10-2 game in Central’s favor.
Later, Jacob Hall smashed a shot to shortstop as Godbout was headed home to score.
The ball was misplayed as Hall arrived to first safely and that final RBI tally and run made it an 11-2 game with Platt down to one half-inning left.
“You’ve got to put up young kids in situations,” said Ray. “I’m not afraid to go to my bench. We practice everybody together, I see what they can do. Eventually, they’ve got to be the guy sitting at the table so if they’re going to be the next generation of players, you’ve got to spot them, you’ve got to be able to get them in.”
Relief pitcher Jarrett Michaels mopped up in the final stanza – walking only one – as Central picked up a impressive 11-2 win.
Central is now 7-0 overall while Platt fell to 3-5.