BRISTOL – Following its first win of the season on Wednesday, Bristol Eastern baseball dropped a tight matchup against Maloney, 8-6, Friday.
The Lancers led 4-1 after four innings, but the Spartans scored five runs in the fifth inning and never looked back, handing Bristol Eastern its eighth loss of the year.
“It’s how it’s been the last five or six games,” Lancers coach Steve Guadet said. “We’ve been right there. Even the first game, same game we played in game one of the season. Just not capitalizing on big opportunities and making a key defensive mistake in key situations.”
After falling behind 8-4, Bristol Eastern brought it right back to a two-run game in the bottom half of the fifth as Jaydon Churchill and Andrew Lozier each bashed doubles. Benjamin D’Amato drove Lozier in with a single to make it 8-6, and Ryan Fradette rounded out the Lancers hitting in the inning with a base knock of his own.
Bristol Eastern had opportunities to score in the fifth and sixth innings, but just couldn’t get the big hit it needed. Lozier had the best chance in the sixth with two Lancers runners on and one out, but flied out to the left-fielder, halting Bristol Eastern’s momentum.
“We got to work on that in practice more,” Churchill said. “If we could just hit more with people on base, we’ll be fine, even with errors.”
Lozier finished with a pair of hits to lead the Lancers while Churchill finished with a team-high three runs scored. Dylan Woodsome and Nathan Ouellette each picked up hits for Bristol Eastern while D’Amato and Lozier concluded with two RBIs apiece.
“It’s timely hitting,” Gaudet said. “We left too many guys on base today. We got to make sure that we’re capitalizing on those opportunities.”
Brayden Moore lasted 4 and 1/3 innings for the Lancers, giving up 10 hits and five runs, but struck out five Maloney batters and didn’t walk any.
Michael Roalf and Ryan Maglio finished out the fifth inning, before Lozier came on and closed out the game, picking up three strikeouts during the sixth and seventh innings.
“I thought our pitching was very good, especially (Moore) and then at the end, Lozier coming in,” Gaudet said. “Our pitching isn’t good enough where we can make those lapses and have those errors and we made a couple crucial ones today.”
“Got to stop making a lot of errors, errors [are] killing us,” Churchill said. “We have good pitchers, we just got to back them up.”
Bristol Eastern couldn’t convert on a pick-off attempt midway through the game, which led to a Spartans scoring play.
Maloney mustered 12 hits throughout the game, including four extra-base hits. Raff Rodriguez recorded a triple and double to pace the Spartans attack.
“My kids keep fighting,” Gaudet said. “We’re in every game. Last Saturday, we were up 10-8 in the seventh with two outs and we lost that game, then we lose in extras. Then we come back in win and [then] we’re in this type of game, we got to get over that hump and learn how to win.”
Prior to the Lancers’ 4-1 win over, they had dropped its first seven games of the season. The schedule won’t get any easier as they still have to face Southington once and Bristol Central twice, but Bristol Eastern is improving, slowly but surely.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” Gaudet said. “It’s just a matter of getting over that hump and we’re going to keep grinding, keep fighting. That’s what I love about this team, they fight until the end. You can see in every at-bat, until the end, until there’s 21 outs, we’re out there competing to the best of our abilities.”
“We need to step it up, because we don’t have time for losses anymore,” Churchill said. “If we lose more we’re not going to head to the [state tournament].”
The Lancers (1-8) will next play South Windsor on the road Monday at 3:45 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.