After an epic collapse last season in which the Bristol Blues lost 11 of their last 13 games to miss the playoffs - culminating in a 4-2 loss to Torrington in the season finale in which both teams knew the winner of the game would advance into the postseason - the Blues did the polar opposite this season.
By winning five straight to close out the season, beating the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs 3-1 in a winner-take all season finale for the West Division title, Bristol ensured a trip into the playoff semifinals and home field advantage when they got there.
As a result, the Blues will rest up today while the four non-division-winning playoff qualifiers battle in single game first round contests.
The No. 3 seed Wachusett Dirt Dawgs host the No. 6 Worcester Bravehearts, and if the Dirt Dawgs win, Bristol will play at Wachusett in the opener of a best-of-3 semifinal series on Wednesday.
In today’s other game, the No. 4 Pittsfield Suns will host the No. 5 Nashua Silver Knights. The Blues will travel to face the winner of that game in Wednesday’s semifinal contest if the Dirt Dawgs lose today.
Games 2 and 3, if necessary, of the series will be played at Muzzy Field on Thursday and Friday. The semifinal round winners will face off in a best-of-3 series on Saturday through Monday.
Bristol Blues relief pitcher Anthony Morrone led the Futures League in wins this season, going 6-2. He did not pitch more than three innings in any game during the year.
The team went 9-5 in games in which he appeared. He recorded all six of his victories over a stretch of eight straight appearances from June 15 through July 16.
Morrone had a 5.01 ERA for the season over 14 games and 23 1/3 innings pitched, without recording a save. He struck out 14 batters and walked 12.
Bristol’s Michael Genaro was fifth among league leaders with a 3.50 ERA this season.
He pitched in nine games, starting eight, going 2-0 with 24 strikeouts and just six walks.