BRISTOL - Wednesday eveningâ€™s game between the Bristol and Simsbury American Legion baseball teams was a battle of contrasting styles between a pair of red-hot clubs leading the pack in Zone 1, and it was Simsburyâ€™s blueprint coming out on top in an 11-1 five-inning victory via mercy rule at Muzzy Field.Â
Bristol had won eight of its previous 10 games, buoyed by strong defense and pitching, entering the matchup, having allowed the fewest runs in Zone 1 while sporting a 9-1 home record.
Simsbury, meanwhile, had won seven of its past 10 contests, scoring the zoneâ€™s most runs with a 7-1 mark in road games.
Simsbury (14-5) used that lethal offense in a pair of big innings, roping 12 total hits and taking advantage of four errors to pull within a half game of Bristol (15-5) in the Northern Division standings.Â
â€śThe first couple innings, we played well,â€ť Bristol head coach Jerry LaPenta said. â€śI didnâ€™t think [Bristol starter Trevor Mays] had his best stuff. They hit the ball really well, and I think hitting can be contagious. They got loosey-goosey.â€ť
Three straight singles and a fielderâ€™s choice gave Simsbury a 2-0 lead in the first, but Ryan Greeneâ€™s RBI double to left field cut Bristolâ€™s deficit to one in the bottom half.Â
Mac Goulet smashed a third-inning double to the warning track in left field, but an opportunity to tie the score was lost when Cory Fradette had been picked off by pitcher Matt Rose while trying to steal second during Gouletâ€™s at-bat. Goulet was then stranded at third on a strikeout.Â
In the fourth, Simsbury took control of the game by scoring three runs, first on Jon Wilsonâ€™s RBI double. Brandyn Garcia and Blake Chapman each added to the lead with a run-scoring single, and Bristol trailed 5-1 midway through the contest.Â
Tate Valerio (double) and Wilson (triple) stroked long opposite-field fly balls to the right field wall for runs, giving Simsbury a 7-1 cushion in the fifth before the team added two more runs on a wild pitch and a fielderâ€™s choice.Â
After an infield error, Simsbury plated two more runs in the inning on an RBI single by Sam Attianese to left field, with the second run scoring on another error for a 10-run lead.Â
â€śWe gave them some extra outs,â€ť LaPenta said. â€śWe gave them two or three runs in the beginning, and then sometimes thatâ€™s the way it goes. They relaxed, and they hit every pitch hard and got a couple bounces on the field.â€ť
The two teams are now split 1-1 in the season series and will prep for a grudge match at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Memorial Park in Simsbury. The winner will have a half-game lead atop the division standings.Â
â€śWe didnâ€™t expect to sweep them. Theyâ€™re a good team,â€ť LaPenta said. â€śI told the guys, itâ€™s baseball. You just forget this game. We need the day off [Thursday] so the guys will take the day off, and then Friday we come back. If we win that game, everyone will forget all about today.â€ť
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org