By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Southington 66ers of the Tri-State Baseball League made quite an impression in game one of its best-of-three series against the Bristol Greeners – belting out 12 hits in its 6-1 win from Bristol Central High School on Thursday, July 26.
Bristol (11-8) hung around in the thing, trailing 3-0 through six innings but was limited to only five hits in the showdown.
“We threw the ball over the plate, maybe we threw it over a little bit too much today and they took advantage,” said Bristol coach A.J. Lorenzetti of Terryville. “Hats off to them. They hit the ball very well.”
The 66ers (9-10) used a two-pronged attack to augment its offense as Southington pitchers Joe Rivera (3 IP, one hit, 6 Ks) and old friend Kyle Dube (6 IP, four hits, four Ks) limited Bristol offensively.
The Greeners simply couldn’t string together anything offensively as the 66ers notched a run in the second and went for three more in the third to stake a 4-0 push that would never be challenged.
Lorenzetti paced Bristol with two hits including an RBI single in the eighth inning.
With two away in the first stanza, Southington’s Timmy Jalbert (3-for-4, home run, 2 RBI) dropped a ball in front of Bristol shortstop Kyle Torok that died, putting a man on via the infield hit.
But when he looked to advance, Lorenzetti gunned Jalbert down at second base for the third out as the Greeners came up to the plate.
Ben Mazzone reached base via error in the bottom of the first when his offering to third was thrown way over the first base bag.
66ers pitcher Joe Rivera was then able to fan Lorenzetti to end the first as the game was scoreless going into the second tilt.
In the second, Pat Smith (2-for-4, two doubles, RBI) canned a leadoff double to the gap and when Joe Daigle (3-of-5, double, 2 RBI) singled to right, runners were on the corners.
And Dube ended up flying out to right but on the play, the sacrifice fly plated Smith as the visitors led 1-0.
Joe Rivera then dropped in a base hit in short right to put two on again with one out.
But back-to-back Ks from Bristol pitcher Jerry LaPenta Jr. ended the threat as Bristol got a base runner on with one out in the second.
Torok walked with one out in the second frame and when Jake Dubrosky dropped a single into right, runners were on first and third.
And then off a wild pitch, Torok took off for home plate.
He appeared to get in under the tag in a bang-bang play but Torok was called out and the 66ers 1-0 edge remained intact.
Over the third inning, Josh Dobratz (double, RBI) walked and Jalbert slipped a single into center as the 66ers had something brewing again.
And then Smith jerked in a double to left – plating Dobratz – as the 66ers edged up a 2-0 lead with runners on second and third.
Daigle followed suit with a two-base, two-RBI hit to deep center as Southington scooped up a 4-0 push.
An error allowed Dube to arrive safely at second base and, in the theme of the evening, the 66ers had two runners on.
LaPenta then made way for Torok on the mound and a neat 1-4-3 double play finally got the Greeners out of the inning as Bristol had the top of its order up.
Rivera stayed in the groove, though, as he zipped up two quick Ks before Jaeden Rasmus walked to get something going for the home team.
But Mazzone popped up to short center and the contest moved into the fourth with the Greeners trailing 4-0.
Torok started the inning with zest as he struck out Sean Rivera and Matt Santovasi before Pat Raymond (2-for-5, double, run) beat out a hot shot off an infield hit to first base.
Nothing came of it as Dube took the mound for the 66ers in the bottom of the fourth.
Lorenzetti greeted Dube with a single to right but a 5-4-3 double play ended the threat.
Torok hit Jalbert with a pitch to open the fifth and Smith walked to put two on with no outs.
And then an errant pick-off play put runners on the corners with Dube at the dish.
But Dube whiffed and Joe Rivera flew out to deep center as Southington settled for its 4-0 lead with Torok doing a solid job in relief.
“Kyle [Torok] pitched very well,” said Lorenzetti. “He was around the plate with his three pitches. He got ground balls and the defense fielded them behind him. It becomes an easy game that way.”
The Greeners went down in order in the fifth as Sean Rivera walked and the 66ers were back at it to open the sixth.
But nothing came of it as Bristol’s top of the order was due up.
Zach Bartolome opened the sixth with an infield hit to shortstop and it looked like Rasmus had beat out a bunt down the first base line but the play was called foul.
Bartolome quickly stole second and a groundout from Mazzone put the lead runner on third base.
But Dube made one final out and Southington continued to control the contest at 4-0, going into the seventh.
“Dube’s definitely a bulldog,” said Lorenzetti. “I made a joke earlier [as] they’d be nothing to keep Kyle Dude off a baseball field.”
And then Jalbert unloaded one in the top of the seventh as he took a Torok offering over the fence in right field as his solo home run made it a 5-0 game.
And then with one out, Daigle dropped in a single to right but a sweet flip by Torok to first base retired Dube and eventually end the inning.
Torok walked in the seventh but Dube wiggled out of the jam as Southington led 5-0.
Back-to-back doubles from Raymond and Dobratz scored a run to make it 6-0 in Southington’s favor after seven completed innings.
Ryan Bodley then dropped in a ball that was unplayable behind shortstop as the Texas leaguer put a Bristol runner on.
Rasmus reached via fielder’s choice – retiring Bodley – and nabbed second off a passed ball.
Dube bobbled a Mazzone offering, giving him first base, and then Lorenzetti slapped a single to center as Rasmus scored to make it a 6-1 game.
And then the Greeners put together a 1-2-3 ninth inning and going into the bottom of the stanza, Bristol trailed by five.
Dube closed the thing out in the ninth, retiring the side in order, as the 66ers edged up a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series over the Greeners by a 6-1 final.
“They have a lot of guys that we’ve played with here in Bristol and a few from Southington,” said Lorenzetti. “They played well.”
However, with Brad Burney on the mound the following evening for the second game, the Greeners had a chance to even up things.
“We’re definitely not going to give up,” said Lorenzetti. “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we’re going to go out [Friday], play like it’s 0-0.”
NOTES…In the second game of the series, Bristol led 2-0 early but ended up falling 7-2. The Greeners finished the season at 11-9. The story about the Greeners’ final tournament game will be in next week’s edition of the Bristol Observer.