Trio of Bristol Blues continue to swing bats well to be among league leaders in hitting

Published on Monday, 1 July 2019 21:46
Written by ZACK CARPENTER

@ZACKCARPENTERBP

BRISTOL - Brandon Miller isn’t worried about his stats, even as he sits atop the leaderboard as the FCBL’s top hitter.

Miller, who entered Monday’s game against the Nashua Silver Knights hitting .405, has more important things to worry about - mainly, winning.

“I’ve always been a guy who stays away from the stats because you can get caught up in your head,” Miller said. “It’s not a good thing to do. I’m just gonna keep going out and swinging it and keep doing what I’ve been doing, and hopefully let the cards lay where they fall.”

Miller has been one of the players at the heart of the Blues’ recent surge from a 5-10 record to 13-11, thanks in part to the stats he is trying hard not to worry about. On Sunday, he lasered a bases-clearing, go-ahead double - as part of a 2-for-5 day - in the seventh inning of the 5-3 victory over the North Shore Navigators that sent Bristol to its eighth win in its last nine games.

On Saturday, he finished 4-for-4, leading the Blues to another victory with a home run and a double, that after switching out his bat.

“The new bat’s been doing me well,” Miller said. “It’s a solid bat so I’m gonna continue to use it as long as I can.”

Joining Miller among the league leaders in batting average heading into Monday were leadoff hitter Austin White (.387) and shortstop Zeke Diamond (.338), making it three Blues players enjoying time in the top six of each statistical category.

White (.539) was first in the league in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage (.573) and fourth in OPS (1.112). He’s been one of the most consistent Blues players during his 24 games played, and he’s earned a reputation as being perhaps the best centerfielder and best leadoff man in the FCBL.

“As a leadoff hitter, you’ve just got to be very comfortable knowing your job is to take pitches and see pitches, to see if his offspeed’s working or his fastball’s running or anything,” White said.

Whether the lefty White draws one of his league-leading 25 walks or heads back to the dugout after a strikeout, which he’s done just 10 times this summer, he is often seen discussing with the next batter what to expect from the opposing pitcher.

“It just helps them to keep them calm to know they don’t have to tense up in their at-bats and know they don’t have to chase pitches,” White said.

White has stayed successful since day one with the Blues, and Miller has been the same way since joining the team six games into the season. Diamond, however, has been the opposite.

After starting the season 0-for-9, reaching base just one time in the first three games, the struggles continued as he held just a .219 average through 10 games. But Diamond has raised his average by more than 100 points since, topping out at .352 following a 5-for-6 day in Saturday’s win.

“I’ve been staying back on the ball,” Diamond said. “I was just lunging at the ball [in the beginning of the season].”

Diamond is coming off a successful freshman season at Emory University, where he was the team’s third-leading hitter at .358. He’s been able to rebound from the rough start to the summer to become the Blues’ third-leading hitter by staying patient.

“I just fixed small things, adjusted slowly and didn’t change too much,” Diamond said. “Otherwise, you’re just gonna mess up something else. [I was] getting in my own head a little bit. It was rough when you start out going 0-fer for the first few games after having a good season.”

He’s been thriving of late, and that includes sparking the Blues’ comeback on Sunday by laying down a two-out, one-strike bunt in the fifth inning, reaching first base on an error. The Blues were trailing 2-0 at the time, and after Diamond reached, JT Mounce roped a double to score Diamond, and White hit a game-tying single. It all precluded Miller’s game-changing hit.

“The bunt has been huge for Zeke,” Miller said. “He bunts like once a game. They know it’s coming, but they can’t defend it because he puts it in a great spot. He’s one of the best bunters I’ve ever seen. If he keeps doing that, there’s no way he’s getting taken out of the lineup.”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or zcarpenter@bristolpress.com



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Blues on Monday, 1 July 2019 21:46. Updated: Monday, 1 July 2019 21:49.