SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
SOUTHINGTON - The Bristol American Legion baseball team took full advantage of its opportunities against Southington Thursday night.
Bristol was the beneficiary of an ineffective outing by Southington’s starter Bailey Robarge, who walked four batters in a 5-1 win.
“He was a little bit off today,” Southington manager Marc Verderame said about Robarge’s outing. “He wasn’t throwing strikes. He walked four or five guys. He would lead off the innings with a walk and the walks will kill you.”
Bristol got on the board early in the first inning after Ben Mazzone stole home when Robarge was checking on the runner on second.
Southington responded with a run of its own in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Jonathan Gray. But it was the only run Southington would be able to muster off Bristol’s starter Kenny Knox.
Knox pitched into the sixth before being relieved by Wes Lahey with one out in the inning.
“He threw a lot of first pitch strikes,” Bristol manager Jerry LaPenta said. “He throws his curveball for strikes and he did a really good job. He got a lot of huge outs on the bases with his pick-off move. Pretty much I know what I am going to get from him, which is strikes and he has a good rhythm to the game.”
Bristol took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single from Jake Violette and then tacked on two extra runs off Robarge in the fifth on RBI singles by Chadd Richardson and Anthony Lozier to extend their lead 4-1. Both runs came with two outs.
“If you get two-out hits to score runs you are usually going to win the game,” LaPenta said. “Three two-out hits with guys on base when that happens, those are huge.”
On the other side, Southington had trouble trying to cash in with the big hits. Trailing 5-1 in the sixth after Bristol brought in another run on an RBI single by Ben Mazzone, Southington loaded the bases with only one out to force Knox out of the game. But both Robarge and Brandon Kohl struck out against Lahey to leave the runners stranded.
Robarge earlier grounded into an inning ending double-play in the fourth with runners on first and third. His frustration mounted as he broke his bat after the sixth-inning strikeout.
“We have come back four or five times and been in that spot before, we had guys on but couldn’t come up with it this time,” Verderame said on the team not being able to break through. “We couldn’t execute today and our luck ran out today.”
Southington also made many of its outs on the base paths as Joshua Panarella was caught stealing twice despite having a 3-for-3 night.
“A big game for Josh, he had three hits in the game,” Verderame said. “In those situations we steal a lot. We have about 80 steals so far in the season and we are trying to get him over and take a shot. Unfortunately, it did not work out both times, but that is just the way we play here.”
The loss snapped Southington’s eight-game winning streak.
Kimberly Pena can be reached at email@example.com
On Twitter: @Kimberly_P12