By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL — After a promising start to the second game of the Connecticut Twilight League championship series between the Bristol Knights and Fat Orange Cat Brewers on Wednesday, Aug. 14, it was obvious that the locals meant business.
Dropping the first game in the best-of-three series by a 9-2 score to open the night, the Knights wrapped up a three-run, first inning of play and were off and running.
But the Brewers matched that total in the first inning, adding an additional run along the way, before entering the second frame ahead 4-3 on the scoreboard.
And Bristol never recovered as the Brewers blasted the Knights for 11 third inning runs to eventually snare a huge 16-5 mercy-ruled win from Muzzy Field in Bristol — winning the CTL championship and the Barsa trophy two games-to-none.
The Brewers (18-9-1) played like a top three seed and saw 17 batters march to the plate in the third inning, collecting seven hits, six walks, and a hit batsmen to post that 11-spot on the board in the third as hitting became contagious.
“It was one of those things where baseball’s a funny sport and everything went [the Brewers’] way,” said Bristol coach Ricky Barrett. “It was offensive, defensive, everything bounced right to them.”
Zach Turner came into pitch during the second inning for the Brewers, picking up the win over a three frame, one-hit gem that saw Bristol bat one over the Min imum between the second and fourth frames.
Bristol Earl Oakes battled, dictated the pace but drew a tough loss in the end.
But the beginning was pretty good for the locals as Bristol jumped on Brewers starting pitcher Jon Comer.
Julio Ortiz-Rivera (1-for-3) started the top of the first inning with a blazing double to right field and when Georgie Santiago squirted a single by the shortstop, the lead runner was charging home.
And Ortiz-Rivera slid into the plate safely, beating the tag, as Bristol nabbed a 1-0 lead.
Kyle Pileski was plunked by a pitch with one out and when Rex Cone walked, the bases were juiced for Oakes.
Oakes made Comer pay as his single to the gap in left scored Santiago and Pileski as the Knights — for the third time in the postseason — held a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Justin Martella then dropped in a little nubber that neither the pitcher nor the catcher could handle as the bases were juiced again.
But Mazzone popped out to shallow right field to end the frame with the visitors leading by three.
The Brewers answered as Luke Johnson led off with a bunt hit to first base, advancing to second via a passed ball.
Zak Johnson then walked as a wild pitch put runners on the corners.
Tyler Gibbs also drew a base-on-balls to load things up, all without the benefit of an out.
Oakes then fanned Adam Michaud and Brian Kohn popped out to Pileski at first before a wild pitch scored Luke Johnson as the deficit was trimmed to 3-1.
From there, a two-RBI single, blasted to right field by Marvin Gorses, cleared the bases to tie the game at 3-3.
Gorses then stole second and third and when Jeff Durso dropped a flare to center, the go-ahead run was tallied as the Brewers took the edge at 4-3.
But Bristol had its top of the order up in the second inning and but found it tough going with Turner on the hill.
Turner quickly induced two flyball outs and a strikeout as the Brewers still led by one.
In the bottom of the second, Nick Rodriguez earned a one-out walk, stole second, swiped third and was 90 feet away from home plate.
Zak Johnson walked to put runners on the corners before Gibbs drew his second base-on-balls to load things up.
A passed ball scored Rodriguez as Bristol trailed 5-3 going into the third frame of play.
The Knights were retired in order by Turner in the third and the Bristol defense was quickly back on the field.
Three straight hits loaded the bases with no one out in the third for the Brewers before the wheels fell off the wagon on the Knights.
An RBI single to center by Matt Sevigny scored Kohn to make it a 6-3 game.
Bristol’s Jaeden Rasmus helped to throw Gorses out at the dish off a Comer grounder to short while Rodriguez unleashed a deep double to left — scoring two — as the Brewers went ahead on the scoreboard, 8-3.
Cone relived Oakes and Luke Johnson dropped in a safety squeeze as pinch runner Miles Laureano was barreling toward home plate.
Cone made one heck of a flip to Bristol catcher Casey Barter but the runner just sneaked home, making it 9-3.
Zak Johnson then walked to get on and Gibbs dropped in a two-RBI single as the Brewers sizzled to an 11-3 cushion.
Michaud drew a full-count walk to reload the bases and with Kohn up, the home team had batted around.
He earned an RBI walk to make it 12-3 and when a pitch went wild, Barter ran down the ball, and got it to Cone — tagging out Gibbs at the dish for out number two.
Cone then plunked Durso with a ball, leading to another RBI tally, and Kohn scored on a wild pitch to post the Brewers to a 14-3 lead.
Pileski relived Cone and Laureano walked in a run to make it 15-3.
Before it was all said and done, Rodriguez earned a base-on-balls to plate another runner as the Fat Orange Cat Brewers racked up an imposing 13-run edge.
And when Luke Johnson finally struck out, 17 total batters came to the plate to help the Brewers reach that 16-3 lead.
“What are you going to do? That’s baseball,” said Barrett. “The baseball gods were smiling on that team and congratulations to them. They had a hell of a season.”
Turner had retired eight straight before Martella smashed single to left with one gone in the fourth but was out at second base via a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Rasmus made two slick throwing plays to generate putouts in the bottom of the fourth and the Knights were down to its final three outs in the fifth as the mercy rule loomed.
Bristol’s Adam Lopez got a chance to take some swings at the plate for the Knights and he ended up walking to start a rally.
Andrew Tremley also saw some time at the plate, striking out on a full count.
Joe Acompora earned a tough walk to get onboard to put two on with one out.
Barter refused to yield during his plate appearance, running out an infield hit and just like that, the bases were loaded for Chris McGrath.
McGrath struck out but Stephen Clout’s flyball to center was dropped, scoring Lopez and Acompora, as Bristol chopped the deficit to 16-5.
But one out later, the game was over and the Orange Fat Cat Brewers were celebrating behind its mercy-ruled 11-run win over the Knights to take the CTL championship for the first time.