BRISTOL – Playing just its second game since May 12, 16th-ranked Bristol Central baseball welcomed 17th-ranked Farmington to Muzzy Field for the first round of the Class L state tournament and played like a team ready for postseason action, winning 5-1.
The Rams held a 2-1 lead for much of the contest behind an active defense and six strong innings from senior pitcher Sean Wininger. He finished with five strikeouts and allowed just five hits, including just one in the final three innings, along with one run.
“I thought Sean did a great job,” head coach Bunty Ray said. “He actually came out and didn’t have his best stuff, but then he turned it around. He started throwing to contact, started throwing to strikes and that was great defense.”
Senior center fielder Mike Lorenzetti notched two of his team’s seven hits, highlighted by a double in the first inning that put himself and another runner in scoring position to set up the opening runs of the game.
The win earns Central a spot in the second round Wednesday where it will face top-seeded Daniel Hand, which finished the regular season with just won loss. With this being the team’s first win in nearly a month, the players’ energy is high just from being back out on the field and playing well.
“You get a 10-win season out of it, you get to play at home, it’s only our second game since May 12, so for us coming out here and having that chance to be with the team was more important than anything,” Ray said. “Getting a chance to play at Muzzy, getting a chance to play in a tournament game, that means a lot.”
The Rams first two runs were unearned as a bases-loaded error from Farmington first baseman Austin Bohlman allowed one run to score. A second run came home on the same play as the River Hawks continued to the throw the ball around and made another mistake.
Farmington struck right back in the top of the second inning as Wininger faced a brief battle with his control, giving up hits to the first two batters and then walking the next two, which brought in a run. Central escaped the jam quickly as the following batter hit one right back to Wininger who ignited a 1-2-3 double play for the first two outs and senior shortstop Matt Beaucar threw out a runner at first on the next play.
“I was getting balls hit right to my guys and I knew they were going to make plays because I have all the faith in the world in my teammates,” Wininger said.
The game slowed down after that as the next four innings were scoreless. Farmington only had three base runners for the remainder of the contest as Central’s defense remained stout. Still facing rust and a talented pitcher in Dan Kelly, the Rams needed to find its rhythm in the middling innings.
“We talked about our approach, sometimes you have to give credit to the pitcher, he was moving the ball around,” Ray said. “We wanted to shorten up, make good contact and make sure things happen.”
Central came alive in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Wininger three runs of insurance before his final frame. The first run came when a groundball from Beaucar was thrown away by Farmington second baseman Liam Chamberlain with runners on the corners.
Sophomore designated hitter Ryan Ring picked up his team’s only two RBI of the day with a single, but also ended the inning getting caught between first and second base.
“The energy definitely ramped up,” Lorenzetti said. “We jumped on them early, then it slowed down a bit. Then we kicked it into high gear because we realized that this is going to be our last game for some these seniors if we don’t get it going.”
With a solid cushion and just three outs to get, Wininger saw four batters in the final inning, allowing one hit and finsihing on a strikeout.
“It was good to see these guys come out and say to themselves ‘we’re going to go out and defensively for Sean,’” Ray said. “We haven’t always made plays for him all year, Sean should have three or four more wins. But Sean doesn’t complain, he just goes out there and does his job and I’m glad the defense was able to keep up.”
Lorenzetti will be on the mound for Wednesday’s matchup with the Daniel Hand as the Rams look to reach the Class L quarterfinals.
“This is what we wanted to do,” Ray said. “I think Mike gives a good shot to win any game he’s out there. I know he’s going to go out there and give us a great effort and we’re going to swing the bats.”
“I’m going to empty the tank for my guys,” Lorenzetti said.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org