BRISTOL - Logan Greene and Jayson Gonzalez provided the offensive production needed to compliment the great pitching performances by Bristol Blues arms.
The result was 3-1 victory over the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs in front of a packed house at Muzzy Field on Sunday night that secured the West Division title for Bristol and a trip to the semifinals.
Greene was 1-for-4, hitting was a huge two-run double in the fifth inning that scored Alex Loparco and Max Goione. The double drove in what proved to be the deciding runs of the night.
Gonzalez concluded his strong regular season with a 2-for-4 night including a double. He scored a run and drove in one.
“Pitching and defense just kept us in the ballgame and when we had chances offensively, we took advantage of it,” manager Ronnie Price said.
The Blues pitchers held the top of the Dirt Dawgs order hitless. Brandon Fox, Tyler Kovalewich, Kyle Haag, Jake Wallace and Tommy Curtin all had strong outings.
Fox started the game, and finished with 2 1/3 innings pitched and allowed one hit and a walk while striking out one. Kovalewich pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed just a pair of hits and one walk.
Haag stepped in next and threw a couple scoreless innings with a strikeout and no walks. Wallace came in for the eight innings and shutdown the Dirt Dawgs batters, allowing just one walk. Curtin came in to close the game out in the ninth and finished off his outstanding season with a save by striking out three batters in the ninth inning.
“If our pitchers keep throwing strikes and we play clean defense I think that’ll be our forte to compete and make a run in the playoffs,” Price said.
Opposing pitcher Jonathan Gegetskas pitched 4 2/3 innings of two-run baseball. He struggled with his command though, with three walks issued. Gegetskas struck out five Blues batters. In relief of Gegetskas were Benjamin Lodge and Nick Dombkowski.
Lodge struggled mightily in his brief appearance with two hits and a walk issued in 1/3 innings pitched. Lodge allowed an earned run. Dombkowski was very strong for Wachusett. He pitched the final three innings and threw three perfect innings with two strikeouts recorded.
Chris Davis had an incredible catch on the wall in center field and doubled up Mike Coggeshall at first base to end the top of the eighth on a very hard hit ball by Dirt Dawgs power hitter Zack Tower.
“That was huge. I’d say it’s a SportsCenter Top 10,” Gonzalez said. “That catch really gave us a lot of confidence and really boosted us up to win this game.”
The Dirt Dawgs six hits in the game were more than the four hits Bristol’s lineup accumulated. But the Blues capitalized offensively and left just four men on base while the Dirt Dawgs stranded seven runners.
Joe Jumonville finished with a pair of hits for the Dirt Dawgs. Bradley Wood drove in the only run on a sacrifice fly.
With the win, the Blues secured a spot in the semifinals. The first game of the semifinals will be on the road Wednesday. The Blues had the option of whether to start the series on the road or at home and elected to host the final games of the series in a best of three series.
“That’s a big deal,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve used a lot of pitchers tonight so getting that extra day of rest for our pitchers is big. I think the extra day is going to be special. The position players as well having that extra day is going to help a lot.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan