NEW BRITAIN - Will Homar was his usual dominant self on the mound for the Hurricanes, outpitching the Bristol Central staff on Monday afternoon, and the New Britain baseball team’s offense came up with a big third inning to earn an 8-4 victory over the Rams in the host team’s debut at Beehive Field this season.
“For us, I think it was a matter of we were never able to pitch ahead and we couldn’t throw anything offspeed,” Bristol Central coach Bunty Ray said. “[The Hurricanes] were just sitting on one pitch and that was most of our pitchers today. [They] were just throwing one pitch, which was a fastball, and they were sitting on it.”
The Hurricanes blew the game open in the bottom of the third inning and held onto that lead to win the game.
With New Britain trailing 3-2, Taj McCall led off the inning and was hit by an Alec DiLoreto pitch. Then Danniel Rivera lined one into left field for a single, but ball was misplayed in the outfield, allowing Rivera to reach third and McCall to score, tying the game.
DiLoreto then hit Alex Silva to put a second baserunner on for Homar, whose single drove in Rivera for the lead and moved Silva over to second. Josh Garcia followed Homar with a two-run double that forced DiLoreto off the mound.
Stephen Warkoski relieved him for the Rams and the first batter he faced was Justin Adorno, who hit a single to score Garcia for the fifth run of the inning. After walking Matt Murphy, Warkoski got Michael Gajda to hit a blooper into a 1-3 double play and struck out Guillermo Burgos looking.
“That was huge,” New Britain coach Roberto Mercado said about the third inning outburst. “A team like Bristol Central, they’re going to fight to the end and I told these guys every inning, ‘Hey, we got to keep winning innings. This is one of those teams that’s going to keep fighting.’ So it was good to get that big inning and the guys are swinging the bats well. I’m very proud of that.”
A combination of Warkoski and Alex Balfour kept the Rams in the game over the final three and a half innings, surrendering only two hits and one run, and it was almost enough.
After scoring a run in the top of the fifth to pull to within four, Bristol Central’s offense threatened to come back late, when it loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
Mike Lemke hit a one-out single and Noah Plantamuro was hit by a pitch after DiLoreto struck out. Jacob Santiago drew a walk to load the bases, but Homar got Eric Gaudreau to strike out and handed the Rams the last three of their eight men stranded in the game.
The strikeout of Gaudreau was Homar’s fifth in the complete-game outing. While he hit four batters, he only allowed seven hits, two walks and three earned runs.
“[He had] a great start for us,” Mercado said. “He did a phenomenal job for us. I’m very, very proud of his effort.”
In addition to storming in front in the third inning, the Hurricanes were also the first to score in the game.
McCall led off that inning as well, hitting reaching base on an error. Rivera followed it up with a deep triple to drive in the first run of the game and he scored the second thanks to Silva hitting into a 6-3 putout.
Bristol Central took the lead for the first and only time in the game in the top of the third.
Homar hit Jaylen Dias, the Rams’ leadoff hitter, surrendered a single to Jeremy Ganavage and walked Dathan Hickey to load the bases with no outs. But Mike Lemke hit into a 1-2-3 double play to give New Britain two outs and hold the Rams off the board. Yet Bristol Central recovered, as DiLoreto drove two runs in with a single immediately after.
“We made some mistakes at critical times in the game against their ace, who’s a very good pitcher,” Bristol Central coach Bunty Ray said. “You expect you’re not going to score a ton, but I thought we did a great job of putting pressure on them and scoring runs off [Homar]. I have to take that with the bad.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @K_baum30