The Bristol Blues sophomore season in the NECBL has been nothing short of a triumph. The Western Division champs will face the sixth-seeded Sharks in the semifinals in a best of three showdown. General Manager Jordan Scheiner believes the dedication of the coaches and players will play a key role in the playoffs.
“The players are putting in the work with the coaches. At 2:30, our infielders are doing footwork drills on the field, and some of our hitters are doing extra work with our hitting coach. That’s two hours before batting practice starts,” he said.
The extra effort from the Blues players and coaching staff is reflected in their 32-12 record. Bristol tied with Vermont for the best record in the league and will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
The Blues lineup is strong from 1 through 9, boasting players like all-star shortstop Chaz Myers. The University of the Pacific junior is one of the NECBL’s top three hitters with a .377 batting average and an on-base percentage well over .400. Jay Harry is a strong contact hitter and a competent baserunner. The all-star second baseman is the ideal two-hole hitter, batting.316 with 16 RBI.
Centerfielder Griffin Arnone is strong in the cleanup spot and the speedster has totaled 16 stolen bases. Right fielder Joe Rios consistently comes through with key hits, including a game-winning three-run homer on July 7. First baseman Derek Tenney earned the NECBL player of the week award for his .733 batting average and 11 RBI during the sixth week of the season.
The Blues finished their inaugural 2021 season last in their division (12-29), and around half of those games were lost because of errors. This season, Bristol has seen strong defensive skills from players like third baseman Jack Lynch.
“Defense is something that I pride myself on. I get here early and get my work in; I make sure to get my reps down at third,” he said. “Then come game time I just compete and try to make some plays.”
Bristol’s pitching staff is arguably the strongest in the NECBL. The squad has combined for four shutouts this season and have surrendered the fewest runs in the NECBL, with 168 over 380.1 innings pitched. The team tallied a 3.27 ERA, the lowest in the league.
Colin McVeigh has been nearly unhittable, tallying one of the league’s lowest ERAs (1.73). In 36.1 innings pitched, the right-hander has surrendered just 23 hits and 10 walks while dealing 38 strikeouts. Bristol native Jagger Duquette (1.37 ERA) tossed 32.2 innings this season, allowing just 24 hits and eight walks and striking out 27 batters.
Closer Luke Garofalo is lights-out on the mound. In 12 game appearances, the CCSU senior dealt 17 strikeouts, maintained a 0.66 ERA and collected six saves.
“These guys are all great players, and our coaching staff is really invested in us,” Lynch said. “We’re all here wanting to win.”