BRISTOL – The Bristol Central softball team had to move its city series clash against Bristol Eastern to Casey Field on Wednesday, May 1 as the contest was played on a neutral site.
The Rams gave it a whirl against All-State pitcher Erin Girard but in the end, the outfit generated just one hit as Eastern defeated Central 6-0 in a Central Connecticut Conference, Southern division battle.
Eastern moved to 9-1 overall with the win while Central fell to 5-6.
Girard allowed only a bunt hit and dominated the contest.
She went the distance, striking out 12, walking one, and hitting two batters.
“Obviously Erin was…” pretty good said Eastern Scott Redman. “She’s going to tell you that she wasn’t on her best but when you have a one-hit shutout on a good bunt, not short-changing it at all. It was a very good bunt but after five or six attempts at bunting, and very few had-hit balls all day, she was on-point with 12 strikeouts.”
“She clearly had them a little bit off-balanced and did some really nice things.”
The Rams did not hit a ball out of the infield as the Eastern defense made big plays to snuff out any potential base runners all game long.
And the Eastern offense, limited to just seven hits, seemed to make all of them count in three run scoring innings.
“Today, the timely hits came and in a big way from all over the line up,” said Redman. “That was really nice to see.”
Eastern put a bit of a rally together with two outs in the top of the first as Zoe Lowe (1-for-4, run) sliced a double into left field – hustling into second base – while Girard (two walks) was intentionally walked.
Riley Giblin (1-for-3, run) then lofted a liner that was just snared by Kayleigh Dionne at second base as Central came up to bat.
Girard then retired the Rams in the bottom of the first as the showdown was quickly afoot.
The Lancers went 1-2-3 in the top of the second while Central did the same in the bottom of the tilt but Eastern nabbed first blood in the game in the third.
Jasmine Perez (1-for-3, run) opened up the frame by popping a 3-1 ball just fair down the right field line as she legged out a triple.
And Taylor Keegan then grounded out to short – allowing Perez to score – making it a 1-0 contest.
With two down, Lowe reached base via error, went to second on a wild pitch while Girard walked to put two on.
A passed ball advanced the duo while one more allowed Lowe to score from third as Eastern grabbed a 2-0 push.
For Central, it was nine-up and nine-down as Girard had thrown five just balls through three innings with the Lancers maintaining that two-run edge through three.
“Offensively, we just struggled, which I think was the bigger problem,” said Central coach Monica Hayes.
In the fourth, Eastern added two more runs to its ledger.
Alison Tellier (1-for-3, run) hit an absolute bomb to right field as her triple put another runner in scoring position.
From there, Lauren Aparo (three RBI) saw her grounder bobbled. Even if the ball was fielded cleanly, Tellier was going to cross the plate as the Lancers surged ahead 3-0.
And then with two outs, Paige McLaughlin (1-for-4, RBI) found a hole at second base as Aparo hustled home with Eastern leading it by four runs.
Despite the score, Greger (seven hits, two Ks) hung in well despite the Eastern aggression from the plate.
“They’re a pretty dangerous line-up,” said Hayes of Eastern. “I know they score a lot of runs. [Greger] struggled with some spots at times today but overall I think we just gave them too many outs in a couple innings. Those came back to really hurt us but otherwise I think [she] just gave up three earned runs. We always get a great effort out of her.”
Girard had retired 11 straight before a throwing error, off an offering by Gwen Torreso, allowed Central its first base runner of the affair. However, Peyton grounded out to the Eastern pitcher to close out the fourth.
Two was the magic number again for the Lancers in the fifth as Giblin raced out an infield hit and Alyssa Hackling (1-for-4, run) singled up the middle to put two on.
And when Aparo slammed a triple to right, the bases were cleared as Eastern charged up a 6-0 lead.
“I liked the fact that they kept tacking on [runs]. They weren’t content with just a 2-0 lead even though in the end, it would have been enough,” said Redman. “They kept tacking on, they kept putting runners in scoring position and we got a couple of really big hits today to drive kids in which is exactly what they’re going to need to do in the [state] tournament.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Central’s Emily Ericson earned a full-count walk with one gone.
But two strikeouts later, the runner was stranded and into the top of the sixth, Central trailed 6-0.
Greger showed her usual gusto in the top of the sixth as she helped generate three quick outs to get her mates back to the plate.
The Rams turned that quick turnaround into offense as Mia Santilli laid down a picture-perfect bunt that was just out of a clean reach for McLaughlin near the plate and Central earned its first hit of the afternoon.
Janessa Bartell was then hit by a pitch in the knee as two runners were on with one out.
Central then hit into two groundouts as the inning was quickly over with the Lancers holding firm at 6-0.
“She did a great job,” said Hayes of Girard. “She got ahead of us, which she predominantly does. It’s her MO. She gets ahead of hitters and keeps them off-balance. It’s really, really hard to put a runner on base against her. When you do, you obviously have more success but I think she did a great job of keeping us off-balanced, getting way ahead of hitters and putting us in a hole to start.”
Greger ended Eastern’s ups by retiring the final seven batters she faced. Quickly, it was the bottom of the seventh with the Rams down to their final three outs.
Pinch hitter Gianna Annelli was plunked by a ball with one out. However, two additional Girard strikeouts later – number 11 and 12 of the game – Eastern earned a 6-0 win to move to 9-1 on the campaign.
“That’s the key, to just get outs,” said Redman. “Even if you give up one run, yeah, you don’t want that statistically for yourself, but in the end, when you have a lead, you want to limit the extra base runners and you want to limit the extra bases so that you just get outs.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.