By MICHAEL LETENDRE
NORWICH – Each and every season, the Bristol Eastern baseball team plays a special Saturday challenge, usually against a non-conference opponent.
This year’s game came from Dodd Stadium in Norwich as the Lancers squared off against Norwich Free Academy.
And when it looked like Eastern was about to drop a tough one-run decision, the Lancers’ offense sprang to life.
Eastern notched three runs in the top of the seventh inning as the Lancers came-from-behind to defeat Norwich Free Academy by a 4-2 final on Saturday, April 14.
The win saw Eastern even its record at 2-2 on the season while the Wildcats fell to 2-4.
The Lancers led 1-0 after two innings, trailed 2-1 after four completed frames and when the top of the seventh frame rolled around, the Eastern offense went into overdrive.
To start the rally, Mac Goulet and Mike Massarelli reached base via base-on-balls off NFA starter and eventual losing pitcher Tyler Briggs.
With two on, Briggs retired the next batter via strikeout – his ninth of the game – but followed up by walking Shawn Savoir, loading up the bases.
Briggs was then relieved by Bryan Caisse, who walked Anthony Lozier to force in the tying run, making it a brand new ball game at 2-2.
But Caisse then generated the second out on a strikeout and the game appeared to be destined for extra innings.
However, Eastern senior Jake Violette had something to say about that.
Violette smacked Caisse’s first pitch down the right field line and the outfielder was not able to cleanly field the ball.
His single scored two runs and as the Lancers nabbed the final lead of the contest at 4-2.
Overall, Violette had three of the squad’s four hits on the day.
He drilled three singles while teammate Zach Marquis, the winning pitcher of the affair, slapped out a triple to pace the offense.
And thanks to excellent work on the mound by Marquis, now 1-0 for the year, the four hits were more than enough this time around.
He pitched a complete game for Eastern to snare the win, allowing seven hits, all singles, walked four, struck out nine, while yielding just one earned run.
But, the home team refused to give in, even as the squad was down to its final three outs.
Trailing by two, Norwich Free Academy threatened in the bottom of the seventh as two singles, sandwiched around two strikeouts, put runners on first and third for the Wildcats.
NFA’s Colby Jakan then grounded to shortstop and Lancers’ first baseman, Mike Massarelli, made a great scoop on a throw in the dirt to end the threat and the game.
Marquis gave up just single over the first three innings and the runner who made it safely to base was picked off second as getting players into scoring position was a challenge for the home team.
Meanwhile, Eastern had taken a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Marquis – for the second consecutive game – had the loudest hit of the outing.
Marquis opened the second tilt by dropping a triple into the corner of right field.
He later scored on a ground out to draw first blood in the contest as the Lancer nabbed a 1-0 push in the contest.
But the Wildcats scored twice in the fourth inning to seize a 2-1 lead.
One-out singles by Jordan Lake and Jakan put runners on first and second.
The runners then each advanced a base via a passed ball.
Lake scored on a groundout and Jakan crossed the plate on a single by Kevin Pomroy and quickly, NFA nabbed a 2-1 push.
And it looked as if the Wildcats were going to pad that lead in either the fifth or six stanzas but that additional offense never came to pass.
Marquis walked two in the fifth but both runners ended up stranded on the bases.
To open the sixth, Marquis gave up a base-on-balls and a single but Marquis managed to retire the next three batters in order, the final two via strikeouts.
And then came the decisive seventh when the Lancers simply overwhelmed the out-of-conference foe, snaring a win and drawing even on the season.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.