BRISTOL - Following a frantic eighth-inning rally down three runs Wednesday at Muzzy Field, the Bristol Blues doubled down and made it two straight come-from-behind home victories on Thursday.
John Orzechowski set off the Independence Day fireworks by sprinting in for the 10th-inning walk-off run on a wild pitch in an 8-7 victory over the Brockton Rox. The victory puts the Blues (16-12) in a first-place tie with the Pittsfield Suns (16-12) atop the FCBL standings.
“It feels good to contribute. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunities,” said Orzechowski, moments after being doused in water during the postgame celebration. “That’s a big win right there. We’re just trying to keep it rolling.”
After the Blues battled back from a 7-5 deficit to tie it in the seventh on Will Reiner’s sacrifice fly, the Rox (16-14) spoiled Bristol’s chances to take a lead with runners in scoring position in the final three frames of regulation.
That included reliever Scott Creedon forcing Dylan Reynolds to ground into a double play to end the eighth, then Creedon induced a double-play grounder by Reiner and a pop out by Danny Roth to strand Buddy Dewaine at third in the ninth.
Orzechowski, however, sparked the extra-inning rally by drawing a leadoff walk, followed by Austin White’s third walk of the game and two wild pitches with Brandon Miller at the plate to give the team its 11th victory in the last 13 games.
“It’s tough, obviously, when you have situations to score and we don’t do the job,” Orzechowski said. “But you’ve gotta keep fighting. We were determined the whole time. We ended up getting the job done.”
Bristol and Brockton’s offenses have seen nearly identical run production near the midway point of the season, each doing it in a different fashion, the Blues with a small-ball tendency and the Rox showcasing power. The Blues entered the contest with just three home runs, by far the fewest total in the FCBL (Worcester and Westfield each have 11) and the Rox (20) were two homers shy of league leader Pittsfield.
On Thursday night, though, it was the long ball pacing both clubs early with two home runs apiece, as Miller and Parker Upton powered the Blues, and Gabe Giosso and Evan Sleight carried the Rox.
Muzzy had seen just two home runs this summer entering the night, both from the Rox in a game last month, but Miller smoked a line-drive, three-run rocket over the right-center field wall in the first inning.
Bristol starter Mark Faello, who came into the game with a 3-0 record and 1.01 ERA, surrendered the 3-0 lead, however, by giving up back-to-back homers in the fourth to Giosso and Sleight on a two-run jack and a solo shot.
The right-handed Faello surrendered four earned runs on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts, which included escaping trouble in the second, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batsman and a walk before dropping in a curveball for a called strike three and inducing a ground-ball double play.
Faello, however, loaded the bases again in the fourth and was pulled for reliever Dom Niman, who entered with one out and gave up the final run charged to Faello as the Rox grabbed a 4-3 lead.
Upton’s two-run bomb, a similar laser to Miller’s, gave the Blues a one-run cushion in the fifth, but the Rox turned two singles, two walks, a misplay on a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch into a 7-5 sixth-inning advantage.
That’s when Bristol battled back on a sixth-inning RBI single by Orzechowski to score Zeke Diamond and Reiner’s sac fly in the seventh.
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org