By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The Bristol American Legion Junior baseball team, the defending Connecticut State champs and the Northeast Regional Champions, are off and running in 2019 and after a bit of a slow start, the squad is nearly back in control of Zone 1.
Bristol, after a 1-3 start, have gone 7-2 and trailed division leader West Hartford (10-4) by just a game-and-a-half with several games to go.
Once again, the squad is led by head coach Bill Mason who plays old school, small-ball brand of baseball that plays a tough brand of defense.
The outfit boasts the best defense in Zone 1 as the program only yielded 65 runs over its first 13 games (5.0 runs-allowed-per-game).
There’s plenty of varsity experience on the squad, most of which comes from the Bristol Central side of town.
Evan Bouchard – who also plays with the Senior team – is a talented shortstop while we’ve all seen the progression of pitcher Kyle Lauretti at Bristol Central over the 2019 calendar year.
Mike Lorenzetti can smoke the ball all over the field and Joseph Maglio III throws a little heat from the hill.
Andrew Beaucar can play any position in the outfield; Roberto Cruz has a little pop in his bat; Joseph Crowley is an invaluable contributor from St. Paul Catholic as is Owen Davis.
Other contributors include Matt Beaucar (OF,P ,3B), Kaiden Dionne (C,SS), Anthony Fasci (2B,LF), Dillon Hudson (infield), Avery Latham (SS,P), Spencer Lindroth (3B, P), Sean O’Neil (1B,C), and Zachary Vanessa (SS,CF,P).
Post 2 started the year on June 8 by splitting a twin bill against Winsted.
The locals defeated Winsted 15-5 but later fell 6-4 in the second game.
From there, Bristol was involved with three straight walk-offs – two of which came at the expense of Post 2.
In another double-dip, this time from Conard High School on June 15, Post 2 was swept by West Hartford.
Game 1 saw Bristol lead 7-4 going into the bottom of the sixth but West Hartford notched two runs in the sixth and one more in the seventh to tie the affair up at 7-7.
The home outfit scored one final run in the bottom of the eighth to snare an 8-7 come-from-behind win.
And then in game two, Bristol out-hit West Hartford 12-8; but three errors and more late game heroics foiled Post 2 again.
This time, Bristol trailed 8-5 but put up three straight runs to knot the contest at 8-8.
Once again, however, the home squad dropped in a late game run – this time in the bottom of the seventh – to propel West Hartford to a 9-8 push.
But off the three-game losing streak, Bristol snared five straight – starting on June 17.
It would be a third straight walk-off but this time around, Post 2 got to the pay window as a bases-loaded walk led to the final run of an 8-7 win over Wolcott from Muzzy Field in Bristol.
Off the 12 hit attack, Maglio III earned the victory out of the bullpen.
Post 2 then took it to Newington on June 22 – sweeping the afternoon by scores of 11-1 and 10-7.
In the 10-run win, Cruz picked up the victory and in the second tilt, Lorenzetti snared the victory over his two innings of work out of the bullpen.
Then on June 25 from Riley Field, Bristol blanked Simsbury 2-0.
Post 2 snared its two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take lead in the showdown.
Cruz was strong over his 4.1 innings but did not factor in the decision while Matt Beaucar scooped up the victory over his 2.2 innings on the hill.
Finally, on June 27, Post 2 was once again a winner from Riley Field in Bristol.
But it wasn’t easy as West Hartford led 3-0 through two-and-a-half innings of action.
Bristol outscored West Hartford 5-2 the rest of the way to eventually capture a 7-5 victory.
Lauretti nearly pitched a complete game, grabbing the win as he allowed just seven hits over his 6.2 innings.
On June 29, Bristol split a twin bill against Wolcott from the B.A.W. complex as Post 2 lost the first game 8-6 but won the second 5-0 behind a combined three-hitter by Maglio III and Hudson.
And then on Tuesday, July 2, Bristol scored two runs in the fifth and sixth innings to help Lauretti pitch Bristol to a 5-2 win over Newington but the program fell at Simsbury the following day by a 7-2 final.